Dear Editor,

This past April, a diverse representation of your community met in a series of meetings to discuss strengths and weaknesses of the Scotland County R-1 School District.  The result of the meetings of this Vision Committee was a list of projects that were deemed necessities to be addressed in the short-term.  This list was provided to the SCR-1 Board of Education who was charged with addressing those needs.

In August, the Board voted unanimously to move forward with the first large-scale building project at SCR-1 since 1974 when the high school was constructed.  The board moved quickly with the intention of saving dollars due to always increasing construction costs.

The result is a tax levy issue that was named Proposition K.I.D.S. (Keep Improving District Schools) which will be on the ballot on November 4.  Scotland County stakeholders will have the opportunity to support upgrades to the facilities including an addition that would connect the high school to the elementary, Early Childhood classrooms, new band/chorus facilities, weight room, concession stand and restrooms, and more.  Perhaps more importantly, the completed project would improve safety and security for all students and staff at Scotland County R-I.

Historically, the administrators and board of SCR-I have been conservative with taxpayer money.  Since 2004, the district has chosen not to operate at the voter-approved tax ceiling of $3.69.  Instead, the district chose to spend down balances, saving Scotland County taxpayers approximately $1.71 million in the last decade.

Recently, Wade Stables P.C. [Hannibal, MO, (573) 221-5998] compiled the annual audit paperwork for the district.  The report states, “[Concern surrounds] the potential further erosion of state and federal revenue through reductions of funding through the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) in Career Ladder, Parents as Teachers, Transportation, grants, etc. and reductions in Title Program funding. This combined with possible new unfunded mandates… would create large negative impacts on the School District’s revenue, expenditures and fund balances. These circumstances would force the School District to seriously further reduce or eliminate programs and/or services.”

There are projects and upgrades that are necessary at SCR-I — the face and pride of our community.  Most notably are roof and gutter repairs and the problem of deteriorated “temporary” buildings placed in the late 1980’s that house classrooms, fine arts, athletics, and other programs that the school is mandated to provide. To reach Missouri’s goals of being Top 10 by 20 (http://dese.mo.gov/top-10-by-20), SCR-I added expanded Early Childhood programming in 2013 to further help students become kindergarten ready which research has shown promotes college and career readiness.

The priority of administrators, board, and staff of Scotland County R-I schools is providing an optimal learning environment, keeping students and staff safe, and “providing opportunities for success in a global society” — our mission statement.  If passed, monies raised by the Proposition K.I.D.S. tax increase would be used locally for the sole purpose of improving facilities to meet district goals of providing the best possible education for Scotland County students.

Please contact Superintendent Ryan Bergeson, administrators, or board members so that you can go to the polls on November 4 as informed voters.  Our hope is that all stakeholders will go to the polls to express their support of educating kids in an environment that promotes excellence and, further, encouraging them to “come home” after graduation so their own children can receive a quality education in quality facilities at SCR-I.

Scotland County R-1 Board of Education

Members:

Christy Aylward

Sam Berkowitz

Trinity Davis

George Koontz

Gary Miller

Randy Tobler

Jamie Triplett