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Lebanon school leaders propose bond issue to build new school, upgrade safety

January 09, 2013|Emily Wood, KY3 News | ewood@ky3.com

Lebanon, Mo. -- Outdated buildings and old security systems prompted Lebanon school leaders to push for changes, but the large-scale improvements would come at a cost for taxpayers.

Superintendent Duane Widhalm said the district purchased a 100-acre-plus plot of land on the west side of town for $350,000.  The goal is build a new middle school at that location with the remaining land to be used for another elementary school later on.

"It's going to serve the needs for a long time. We're not putting a lot of expenses into the building but still make it to meet today's needs." Widhalm said.

Widhalm said a year-long study showed the cost to upgrade the 1921 junior high school would be nearly as much as constructing a brand new building.  The building cost is estimated to be $23 to $25 million.

"A new structure would accommodate the needs of technology for our students, so they are prepared to move on," Widhalm said.

A smaller portion of the bond money would be set aside to upgrade security at all of the existing schools, seven of them in all, with an estimated cost of about $500,000.

Lael Hyde is the principal of Boswell Elementary.  She is looking forward to the possible security upgrades for her 700-student school.

"I think a buzz-in system would just be safer.  It would allow us to have more control about who could come and go in our buildings," Hyde said.

Hyde would like to add barriers between the main entrance and nearby classrooms.  She said the changes seem even more pressing following the school massacre in Connecticut.

"At any point, we know with the tragedy that happened, we need to do more.  We have an obligation to do more," Hyde said.

The proposals would be funded through a bond issue, with a property tax increase of 18 cents on every hundred dollars.

"Putting that in perspective, a homeowner of $100,000 home would cost an additional $43 per year," Widhalm said.

Voters can look for the measure on the ballot in April.  School board members have until January 22 to finalize a proposal for the ballot.  Voters rejected the last school bond issue in 2007 while one in 2000 was approved.

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