Wheaton voters pass school bond issue, 76-24

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

District passes measure in bid to get FEMA building

The Wheaton school district has been working toward getting a FEMA building, and it took another step toward the goal on Tuesday by passing a $1 million bond issue to raise funds for the project.

"We submitted a notices of interest a couple of years ago with no plans for a district match," said Wheaton Superintendent Lance Massey. "But, with the bond issue, it puts us with a clear plan for a district match."

The district's current bonding capacity is a little over 1.6 million, however, the Proposition Community Safety bond issue proposed only one million and a no-tax increase.

The building would be used as a multi-purpose facility to house programs, banquets and practices, and during the school day, used to facilitate physical education classes. It will also serve as a shelter and safe room for the community, which would be located between the elementary and high school.

"Our allotment is for 1,250 people, and that should be ample for the school children and community both," Massey said.

In the last round of funding released from FEMA in mid-March, the district did not receive preliminary approval for the building, but on Tuesday, voters in Barry, McDonald and Newton counties passed the bond issue, 76 percent to 24 percent.

"It looks like we had overwhelming support thanks to campaigning from our board of directors and teaching staff," Massey said. "It took a lot of people in our community to make this happen, and we as a district are extremely happy and grateful. This [result] is a step in that direction which was initiated, and the administration took that vision from the board and moved forward."

Massey said the federal FEMA share for the building is $1,549,330, and a district match is $516,443. The FEMA portion essentially provides for a basic building, and the district is responsible for the rest, which it will use bond money to complete.

"We'll use the [extra bond] money to put in flooring, additional lighting and sound-proofing, things like that," Massey said. "They will also be used for some physical education-type activities like basketball goals."

The building will be about 9,700 square feet, comparable to Cassville's two FEMA buildings, which are 8,976 square feet (event center) and 5,916 square feet.

From here, Massey said the district hopes to get in on the next FEMA funding cycle to be released in August.

"[If we get approved,] we'd start that process of getting our bids and be ready to break ground as soon as possible," he said.

Once ground breaking takes place, the building process is expected to take less than 12 months.

To follow the process, residents can visit the district's Facebook page, Proposition Community Safety.

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