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Platte County R-3 Tax Levy: Voters Said “No.” What’s Next?

Modular classroom trailers | Photo Credit: 123rf stock image

Earlier this week, voters turned down the Platte County R-3 school district’s request for an increased tax levy. School administrators said the levy was necessary to pay for expansion to make room for a growing number of students.

“We asked the voters a question, and they have given us an answer,” Superintendent Michael Reik said today. “We will not research, analyze, review the landscape and craft a new plan to best take care of our kids.”

In the meantime, he said, increased class sizes and modular classroom trailer units “may provide a temporary solution.”

When they asked voters to approve an extra 60-cent tax levy, district administrators promised to expand Pathfinder Elementary, improve the high school, enhance district technology and security as well as build a new elementary school to relieve overcrowding. Another part of the plan was to close Rising Star Elementary, which the district contends would be expensive to renovate and is too small to operate efficiently. According to statistics available from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, enrollment in the Platte County R-3 School District has grown by more than 775 students in less than five years.

Projected cost of building the new school was at least $15 million. Without the means to pay for construction out of existing revenues, district administrators said their only option was to raise the tax levy. The sale of school bonds would have been the usual means to raise funds for capital improvements, but the state of Missouri limits the amount of debt a district can take on. According to information available from the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board’s Electronic Municipal Access site, Platte County R-3 cannot legally take on enough debt to pay for expanding and building new schools.

Unofficial results of Tuesday’s election show 1,835 “No” votes and 1,486 “Yes” votes.

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About jwmartinez

JoLynne is a journalist and educator. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Park University and is certified to teach high school journalism and English. Former employment includes work for Cable News Network and the University of Missouri-Kansas City in addition to freelancing for clients such as the Kansas City Star and The Pitch.

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