Gift brings Joplin Schools one step closer to new school

Joplin school officials were all smiles Monday as they signed a memorandum of understanding with the city of Joplin.

The agreement gifts Joplin schools with almost 18 acres of property at the intersection of North Main and West Murphy, often referred to as “Dover Hill,” for the purposes of building a new elementary school.

“There’s genuine partnership between our city and our school because we are all Joplin and we all move forward together,” said Joplin Schools Superintendent Melinda Moss.

The proposed Dover Hill school would hold up to 450 students, consolidating the student bodies and staff of Joplin’s Columbia and West Central elementary schools.

Both schools were built in the 1920s, and Columbia has closed its safe room and gymnasium because of structural issues.

“The transfer of property allows us to move forward with an excellent site to address efficiently our two most aged and problematic campuses in an effective and efficient way,” said Superintendent Moss.

Joplin voters will also have a say on whether the project moves forward.

Following the Joplin tornado, voters approved a 62 million dollar bond issue, and in April of 2020 they’ll vote again on whether to extend it by 20 years for another 25 million dollars in order to pay for the school.

“Joplin school district bonds are structured and paid down in such a way that we can generate the necessary funds to build a new campus on the Dover Hill site with a no-tax-increase bond issue that will come before our stakeholders in April,” said Superintendent Moss.

While the new school is far from a done deal, the new location already has local educators imagining the possibilities.

“We’ll have additional rooms for learning environments that we don’t have now at Columbia. We can have outdoor space that can be turned into learning environments that we don’t have at West Central or Columbia, so we’re real excited about that,” said Shally Lundien, the principal of Columbia Elementary.