Neosho School District looks to invest in major building and improvement project

$22 million project would include performance art center, athletics upgrades, storm shelters

NEOSHO, Mo. – The Neosho Board of Education agreed to pursue up to $22 million in funding for a variety of capital improvements on Monday, Jan. 6.

On Tuesday, Jan. 7, citizens met with school officials to discuss the tax levy that would make that possible.

“Top things on our list are four safe rooms, that would cover all of our campuses…jump to a performing arts center…then we would also from there move out to the athletic facilities…would be concession, restroom, locker room space at the football field,” explained Neosho Superintendent Jim Cummins.

The proposed performing arts center would seat 1,500, feature space for classrooms, rehearsal areas and workshops for theater, choir and band. That alone would cost upwards of $13.4 million, but officials say it’s time for some changes.

“We have so many things that the district needs, and I think we have a supportive community, and so the projects grew from there,” said Cummins.

“I taught in a school, Benton Elementary, we had no storm shelter. We huddled in the halls, or in bathrooms. After seeing the damage in the Joplin tornado and also Goodman, and seeing the affects that could’ve had, for me, the most important thing on this issue is a safe place for students to go,” expressed Chett Daniel, a Neosho father and long-time resident.

The funding plan would require an increase to the school district’s tax levy, which is currently $3.35 per $100 assessed valuation, but many feel its well worth it.

“The total cost to the patrons of running a levy or basically a lease purchase type instrument is that the total cost of that type of financing is less than the bond…One of the things that will be part of this is a Prop C waiver. 89% of the schools in the State of Missouri, over 400 schools, have a Prop C waiver. Neosho does not. So that will be part of the question, can we go to a full waiver of Prop C, and that will allow us to levy whatever our operating ceiling is each year and then approximately 25 cents of the increase would go to these projects,” said Cummins.

“I see these efforts as an indication to people who are considering Neosho as a place to live as some place that’s investing in the future of the community,” said Daniel.

All of the designs are preliminary and can still be changed.

The board will meet on Jan. 21 to interview four construction firms and select a construction manager for the project.

Voting will take place in April.