Purdy school bond passes by big margin

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

More than 80 percent back plan for first storm shelter in town

The Purdy school bond issue to build a performing arts center and the first FEMA storm shelter for the community received resounding support from patrons on Tuesday.

The $2.3 million bond issue for the construction project sailed to approval with 608 or 81.5 percent of the vote, compared to 138 against.

"It's exciting, a great night," said Superintendent Stephen Chancellor. "Truthfully, I expected it to be in the 80s. Obviously I hoped we put forward an issue that makes sense and puts value for the patrons.

"I was at the polls ready to go at 6 a.m. and there was already a line. I knew then there would be a good turnout. People who voted texted me through the day about how many votes had been cast. I spent the day in Springfield, and when I got back in, just looking down at the community center [where people vote], I saw a steady stream of people. I felt we had the votes out there. My one concern was are people going to remember to vote. I got the answer tonight."

Chancellor was at the school Tuesday night for an athlete parent meeting and enrollment by students. General comments Chancellor heard were encouraging.

"We put a big bug around town," Chancellor said. "It was pretty neat."

The school district received word in May that FEMA had approved the Purdy district for funding of a storm shelter, which will be the first in the community. With enough savings to meet the bond issue match, the school board asked patrons for a no-tax-increase bond to pay for construction, modifying the concrete box shelter into a performing arts center and combining it with a new preschool classroom, music classroom for the high school, and space for future construction. The storm shelter will be large enough to hold 1,400 people, more than all the residents in town.

"This was only my second voter issue as superintendent," Chancellor said. "The school board had one election, and this is my first bond project. I was a little anxious today. I wanted to make sure the district communicated well. I felt like we had a solid plan that fit in the budget, made sense, added value to the town and what we're doing here."

Chancellor said with no additional word due from FEMA until September, the district would begin to look for underwriters for the bond issue, and would likely find the right time to sell the bonds, watching interest rates, over the next 60 days. He expected to move forward with Paragon Architecture in developing plans.

"We're also facing a litany of forms and applications for the FEMA process," Chancellor said. "Things won't start right away, but we got what we needed [from voters] to start."

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