R-IV voters to decide crucial ballot issue

Thursday, March 30, 2006

This Tuesday, April 4, voters living in the Cassville R-IV School District will have the opportunity to provide students with additional classroom space in each attendance area by approving two ballot propo-sitions.

The $7.1 million building plan calls for construction of a new 42,000-square-foot, two-level facility for fourth and fifth grades as well as an additional 21,765 square feet of space added to the existing high school facility. This plan, named Proposition #1 on the ballot, would provide additional classroom space for all age groups of students.

The new building would allow fourth and fifth grades to be moved out of the existing intermediate school building. The vacated space would be used to add middle school and primary school classrooms.

The addition at the high school will add, or free up space, for eight new classrooms, which will provide room for an additional 200 students at the high school.

More classrooms will also provide all "floating teachers" with a permanent classroom of their own. In particular, the additional space will meet the needs of several programs that have outgrown their existing facilities or must increase their offerings based on new state standards.

Beginning with next year's freshman class, all Missouri high school graduates will have to meet new, increased graduation requirements. New standards will require all graduates to earn three credits in mathematics and science instead of the two in each currently required. The additional third credit in science will be in chemistry, which requires laboratory experience.

The proposed addition to the south of the high school building will provide two new classrooms, a science classroom with the ability for students to perform non-chemical labora-tory activities and a larger science classroom with a chemistry lab. At present, Cassville High School's five science teachers share one lab.

"Science instruction is moving to a more inquiry-based, or hands on, approach," said Karen Brown, CHS science teacher. "The changes being implemented are intended to develop critical-thinking skills, problem-solving skills and the technological skills that students will need to be successful in today's society.

"With the lack of laboratory space it has been extremely difficult to incorporate all the inquiry-based investigations we would like the students to perform," continued Brown. "Passing the bond-levy issues will certainly help the CHS science department to effectively meet the new state standards, and more importantly, will ultimately improve the science instruction for each of our students."

Proposition #1, if approved by voters, will also allow the district to construct a new agriculture and technology education facility. CHS Principal Brad Hanson said both of these programs are extremely popular with students and filled to capacity on a daily basis.

The proposed plan for the new vo-ag building will increase the size of the shop by 38 percent from 2,300 to 3,200 square feet. the wood shop area will increase by 25 percent from 1,600 to 2,000 square feet. An additional classroom will also be part of the building plan, which would allow the district to add a second agriculture teacher in the future.

"At 130 students, we are currently over our maximum capacity, especially for a one-teacher department, and we continue to grow each and every year," said David Bolton, CHS agriculture education teacher. "This building addition will allow for the continuance of the 'Learning by Doing' approach and would pave the way for additional course offerings and opportunities for our students

"Agriculture continues to be a leading industry in Barry County, and this building plan will provide our students great opportunities in the field of agriculture for the future," added Bolton.

When the agriculture and technology education programs move into the proposed new facility, the existing space currently used for these programs in the high school building could be converted to vocal and instrumental music areas.

According to Hanson, the existing agriculture shop area would eventually be transformed into a new band area that would increase available space by 58 percent from 1,480 to 2,320 square feet.

"The additional space would allow the band to perform in rehearsals just like they would in a concert and would relieve the crowded rehearsal hall we now experience," said Steve Lyons, CHS instrumental music director. "The band currently has approximately 55 students and could grow to as many as 80 over the next several ears. It would also give us ample storage, which we currently lack. Additionally, it would provide us with a more convenient and safe manner to load and unload equipment during the marching season."

The high school's vocal music department would also have room to expand into the vacated technology/wood shop area, increasing available space by 48 percent from 1,080 to 1,600 square feet.

"The proposed expansion of the high school facility is desperately needed for continued success of the vocal music program," said Mary Richmiller, CHS vocal music director. "The current conditions do not allow enough space for students to practice both traditional and choreographed songs.

"Because we work with a lot of small ensembles and solos, individual practice rooms are crucial for mastery and success," said Richmiller. "As we have grown, many of our existing practice rooms have been turned into storage areas out of necessity. As the numbers in vocal music have increased over the past 11 years, we have run out of adequate space to accommodate our students."

According to Richmiller, enrollment in vocal music has increased from 50 students in 1993 to over 150 students in four separate class periods.

Overall, the plans for expansion of the high school will increase the size of the high school by 21,765 square feet and add, or free up, eight additional classrooms for additional student enrollment and future additions in personnel.

"The proposed additions will also enable greater opportunities for students within the core academic areas as well as the elective areas of agricul-ture and technology education and vocal and instrumental music," said Hanson.

Voters will also be asked to approve Proposition #2, which simply gives the district permission to shift funding within its overall levy amount.

The issue proposed by the R-IV District is a no tax increase issue. Proposition #2 allows the district to increase its operating levy by 20 cents, which is offset by a 20-cent decrease in the district's debt service levy. If approved, the district's total tax levy will remain at its current level of $3.27.

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