Carthage School District Seeks Voters’ Approval for New Center | New

CARTHAGE, Mo. — The Carthage School District is seeking voter approval on Tuesday for an $18 million bond issue to build a new performing arts center on the Carthage High School campus on South River Street.

If passed, the measure would extend the district’s 83-cent debt service levy to 2042 beginning in 2040, to allow the district to repay bonds and build a center including a 1,200-seat auditorium and space class for vocal music, band and drama departments.

This would create more space in Carthage High School by allowing the district to turn the oversized spaces currently used by these programs into classrooms.

Since the proposal involves public debt, a four-sevenths majority vote, or 57.14%, is required for its adoption.

The district held information meetings at the Old School Auditorium on Main Street to spread the word and answer questions about the bond issue.

Superintendent Mark Baker said the 40-year-old auditorium on Main Street no longer meets student needs and the district could better teach students with a $20 million performing arts center on the high school campus. .

He said a performing arts center, located in the heart of the 20-acre campus, has been part of plans to build the land since they were drawn up in 2006. It’s one of the last two missing elements of that overall plan. from campus, the other being a baseball diamond on the northeast corner of the lot.

Baker said the district plans to raise at least $2 million in private donations to outfit the facility and accompanying classrooms.

The first donation was announced more than a year ago when the family of John and Carolyn Phelps said they would donate $750,000 to the project in return for the center to be named after the couple.

Separate classrooms and storage areas for orchestra, choir and theater programs would be built at the rear of the auditorium, giving each class direct access to the stage.

Baker also referred to the planning process and public meetings that have been held since 2009 to define the district’s long-term priorities in the Carthage 2020 Plan drafted in 2010 and the Carthage 2020 and Beyond Plan drafted in 2020.

The 2010 meetings made it possible to identify several priorities to help the neighborhood educate students in the coming decade: additional classrooms for primary school students, a childcare center, tornado shelters in elementary schools , a new football stadium, the addition of the Carthage Tech Center and the performing arts center.

The district addressed many of these priorities between 2010 and 2019.

The need for classroom space was tackled in 2014 with an extension of the district’s 83-cent debt-service tax that raised $18 million to pay for the construction of the Carthage Midtown Center on Fir and Chapel Roads, and the reconstruction of the former Carthage Middle School on River and Centennial Streets into present-day Carthage Junior High.

The early childhood center was built on Fairview Avenue using federal funds, grants, and private donations, but without district tax funds.

tornado shelters in each of the five elementary schools were completed in 2015 using a special exemption passed by the Missouri Legislature to allow the district to make a one-time transfer of more of its operating funds than normal into its capital expenditure fund. These shelters also serve as additional classroom space in each building.

David Haffner Stadium was completed in 2017 and paid for by a 10-year, 40-cent increase in the district’s $2.75 operating property tax, approved by voters in 2015. This 40-cent tax will expire in 2025, reducing the tax to $2.75 and reducing the total Carthage school property tax levy from $3.98 per $100 of property assessment to $3.58.

In 2019, a new series of public meetings were held to look beyond 2020 and determine neighborhood priorities, creating the Carthage 2020 plan and beyond.

The main unmet priorities over the previous decade were additions and renovations to the Carthage Technical Center and Performing Arts Center buildings.

Needs at the technical center were addressed when voters in 2020 approved another extension of the Debt Service Levy from 2034 to 2040 to borrow $10 million to double space at the South Carthage Technical Center and renovate the North Carthage Technical Center to host adult programs.