Springfield, MO

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Election Coverage: SPS’ $220M bond issue gets strong support at ballot box

Voters also decide on new council and board of education members

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April 4 represented an overwhelming victory for Springfield Public Schools.

The district’s $220 million bond issue received 77.7% approval, or 22,434 votes, according to the unofficial results posted by the Greene County clerk’s office.

“We’re thankful that voters recognized a need and responded in support of our students, staff and community,” Superintendent Grenita Lathan said in a news release.

The SPS bond issue is now set to fund safety and security upgrades at school facilities. Two middle schools, Pipkin and Reed, are slated to be replaced with new buildings, and Pershing, a K-8 building, will undergo renovations. Additionally, storm shelters at Cowden, Holland, Mann, Pittman, Watkins and Wilder elementaries are part of the bond issue, according to past reporting. At the end of March, SPS announced it was under contract for a 21-acre parcel of land in northeast Springfield to build a new Pipkin Middle School, funded by Proposition S.

The office of mayor and three Springfield City Council seats were contested races during the election.

Incumbent Mayor Ken McClure secured 53.2% of the votes to challenger Melanie Bach’s 46.8%, according to the unofficial election results.

For the Zone 3 seat being vacated by Councilmember Mike Schilling, Brandon Jensen won over David Nokes with 53.8% of the votes.

For General Seat C, to be vacated by Councilmember Andrew Lear, Callie Carroll received 55.3% of the votes to win over Jeremy Dean.

General Seat D, which is being vacated by Councilmember Richard Ollis, went to Derek Lee, who won 52.1% of the vote count to defeat Bruce Adib-Yazdi.

Abe McGull of Zone 2 and Monica Horton of Zone 1 ran unopposed to keep their spots on council.

School board
Four candidates tossed their hats in the ring for two seats on the SPS Board of Education.

Newcomer Judy Brunner and incumbent Shurita Thomas-Tate brought in 28.4% and 24.8% of the votes, respectively, to secure the two spots. Landon McCarter won 24.3% of the votes, with Chad Rollins at 22.4%, according to the unofficial election results.

Trio of ballot questions
Voters approved all three ballot questions brought by the city of Springfield.

Question 1 passed with roughly 70% of the vote. The measure is designed to clean up the city charter language, for instance, by replacing the word “personnel” with the phrase “human resources,” according to past reporting.

The ballot measure would also allow the city manager to give the HR director authority to remove from employment nonregular types of employees. This would typically apply to temporary and seasonal employees, rather than full-time employees. Additionally, the change would add certain employees to the list of unclassified service positions.

Question 2 got the nod with around 53% of voters in favor. The ballot initiative authorizes an ordinance approving acceptance of a bid and entry into contract with a successful bidder to be passed at the same council meeting in which it is introduced, according to past reporting.

Some 66% of voters gave the green light to Question 3, meaning the city has the authority to apply the 5% occupancy tax on hotels to short-term rentals, like those listed by Airbnb and Vrbo, according to past reporting.

Nixa, Republic bond issues
The $47 million bond issue for Nixa Public Schools passed by a 71% margin, according to

The bond issue is designed to fund construction of new classrooms at High Pointe Elementary, as well as at the junior high and high school buildings. The addition at High Pointe also would include a storm shelter to be used for students at the elementary and Summit Intermediate School.

For Republic School District’s $47 million bond issue proposal, roughly 81% of voters favored it.

The new bond issue allows the district to build a new fifth and sixth grade center. The proposed facility is estimated to cost $42 million and would be roughly 125,000 square feet, with an expected capacity of 900-1,000 students, according to past reporting.

Marshfield, Nixa taxes
Some 64% of voters gave the city of Marshfield approval to implement a half-cent tax increase for the purpose of officer recruitment and retention, investment in new equipment and training, and renovation of the Police Department building, which it shares with the Street Department and Municipal Court.

In Nixa, 60% of voters favored a 1-cent general sales tax increase to fund a three-story new headquarters for the Police Department, as well as the hiring of new officers and bond debt payments.

Marijuana sales taxes
Numerous cities and counties sought to impose a sales tax of 3% on retail sales of recreational marijuana. Christian, Dade, Lawrence, Polk and Webster counties, as well as the cities of Monett, Mount Vernon and Ozark, all approved the taxes.

Voters in Polk County and the city of Bolivar voted down a local use tax on out-of-state purchases online, according to election results.

Regional school bonds, taxes
The Ash Grove School District won 57% voter approval for a $9.4 million bond issue for various projects at its elementary school.

Some 53% of voters approved a 25-cent increase to the property tax levy for the Bolivar School District. The goal is to recruit and retain quality teachers and support staff by raising pay.

Around 57% of voters gave the Fordland School District permission to implement a 28-cent increase to the operating tax levy. It would provide roughly $150,000 annually to help offset rising operating costs.

Voters in the Kirbyville School District, by an 87% margin, approved a $1.8 million bond issue. It’s meant to fund construction of secure entrances at the elementary and middle school buildings, build an office for the school resource officer and update security systems with cameras, digital video recorders and door access controls. Additionally, proposed upgrades include the district’s telephone system, the elementary school’s parking lot and lighting.

The Marshfield School District got 73% voter approval for a $10 million bond issue intended to make physical improvements and additions to its campus.

A $2.5 million bond issue for the Miller School District was approved by 72% of voters. It’s designed to fund renovations and upgrades to its agriculture department facility.

The Strafford School District had two ballot measures, and both of them passed.

One is a $10 million bond issue to address renovations, improvements, additions, and safety and security needs of the district. The ballot also included Proposition 2, an operating tax levy increase proposal for the purposes of attracting and retaining quality certified, support and safety faculty and staff, maintaining facilities and meeting additional operating expenses.

Public safety taxes
The Battlefield Fire Protection District received 74% voter approval for a property tax levy increase to address what officials say is inadequate funding to keep up with growth in the area.

Some 77% of voters approved a $3 million bond issue for the Billings Fire Protection District to update apparatus and equipment.

A $3 million bond issue by the Fair Grove Fire Protection District got 52% approval, with goals including the replacement of a fire station and paying off debt.

Around 84% of voters approved the continuation of a quarter-cent sales tax sought by the city of Forsyth for its municipal Fire Department.

Stone County Emergency Services 911 received 66% voter approval for a quarter-cent sales tax to generate additional funds for operations. Also in Stone County, 63% of voters approved a 10-cent tax levy renewal for the county’s developmental disability board.

The Willard Fire Protection District got 67% voter approval for a $10 million bond issue to pay off debt, upgrade equipment, replace a 1986 ladder truck and begin exploratory steps toward building a new fire station at the site of the current Willard Police station.


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