With a pledge not to increase taxes, the Roxana School Board passed a $9.5 million working cash bond issue to fund facility improvements Thursday.
At a hearing Feb. 20, school district residents asked the board to reconsider the bond issue. Some questioned the way the district advertised the bond issue hearing; others said the district doesn’t need to borrow when its revenues are up.
Proceeds from the bond sale will be used for air-conditioning at the junior/senior high school, adding a gymnasium, adding pre-kindergarten and elementary classrooms, improving drainage at the junior/senior high parking lot, covering walkways to classes at the junior/senior high and eliminating portable classrooms, among other projects.
District officials say the bond issue is needed because the district’s current tax revenue is insufficient to accomplish the facility upgrades, despite a reassessment of the WRB Refinery’s assessed value to $441 million after an expansion project. Because of the reassessment, the district was able to decrease its tax rate to $3.88 per $100 equalized assessed valuation, the lowest in Madison County,
One of the speakers at the Feb. 20 hearing, Thomas Ambrose, returned to present the board with a petition, signed by 28 people, asking the board to present the bond issue to voters. Only one person he approached wouldn’t sign the petition, Ambrose said.
“The people aren’t out there that are for this,” he said.
Ambrose, a 51-year Rosewood Heights resident with four children educated in the district, said the board can’t justify building additions when birth rates are declining.
“The children aren’t going to be there,” he said. “Why do you want to build more when you’ve been tearing them down?”
Before passing the bond issue, board member Steve Palen told an audience of about 45 people the district will structure the bond issue to have no impact on taxpayers.
“It’s a zero increase in the tax levy,” Palen said.
After the board passed the bond issue, it approved design documents for a pre-kindergarten addition at South Roxana Elementary School and a classroom addition at Central Elementary School at an estimated cost of $2.7 to $3.1 million.
The project will accomplish the district’s goal of eliminating portable classrooms, Superintendent Debra Kreutztrager said.
“We feel confident in the plan,” she said.