Residents in the Eldon R-I School District made it clear that they support their district by approving a no tax increase bond issue on Tuesday.

Residents in the Eldon R-I School District made it clear that they support their district by approving a no tax increase bond issue on Tuesday.

The district's debt service levy is currently set at 51 cents and has 14 years left in the original bond agreement. This ballot issue extends the bond agreement six more years making it a total of 20 years.

"We really appreciate the support of our community. Our school continues to make great improvements because of the support of our great community," Eldon Superintendent Matt Davis said.

A total of 1,408 voters turned out to vote for the issue and it passed with 73.08 percent of the vote. With 1,029 ‘yes’ votes and 379 ‘no’ votes, the issue passed overwhelmingly.

The district now plans on building and renovating current buildings in the district including a tornado safe room.

"One of the highest priorities of our schools is to keep our kids safe. The District has been working closely with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to build the tornado safe room. This new structure will help protect our students, faculty, and community members in the event of severe weather at the elementary campus. The facility would be located between South School and Upper Elementary. The State Emergency Management Agency has initially agreed to pay for $1 million," Davis said. "One of the key concepts of the building is the fact that 1,200 people must be able to enter the facility within five minutes. For this to happen, a large open space is needed, and, as a result, most tornado safe rooms serve as multipurpose facilities."

When the safe room is not needed, it will be used as a early learning center.

"Currently, South Elementary has special education teachers sharing classrooms. Both Early Childhood Special Education classrooms will be moved into the tornado safe room, along with Parents as Teachers and our occupational therapy assistant. This will allow the teachers to have their own classrooms and the district to expand our preschool program by one teacher. The Tornado Safe Room/Early Learning Center will provide the district with different types of spaces which can be used in a variety of ways both now and in the future. The facility will be available as a community shelter when school is not in session. The school will partner with the Emergency Management Team to develop plans to provide access to as many people as possible in case of an emergency," Davis added.

The safe room/early learning center project is estimated to cost $2.3 million, but a million of its cost is coming from FEMA.

The district also hopes to renovate the fine arts auditorium, which is estimated to cost $1.5 million.

"The Fine Arts Auditorium has been a great asset to our community for the Lion’s Club Follies, Miller County Fair Queen Pageant, Community Plays, Awards Ceremonies, and other activities. It is also used by the school district for fall and spring plays, awards ceremonies and High School choir concerts. The facility holds approximately 500 people. The problem is that 200 of those seats are in areas that do not provide quality viewing of the stage," Davis said. "The school district would like to have an auditorium that could seat 700 people with quality viewing and a stage that is large enough to hold our high school band for performances. We would also like the Fine Arts Auditorium to be able to hold all of our elementary music programs. We are currently meeting with the Architects on a design that would work with those expectations in mind and to also improve handicap accessibility."

Other projects include safety upgrades throughout the district totaling $750,000. Improvements to entrances at South Elementary, Upper Elementary and Eldon Middle School, adding security cameras throughout the district, renovations to the South School parking lot and Upper Elementary gym and upgrades to fencing, lighting and intercom wiring, all top the list of things to do.

The district also aims to create a lobby area for visitors coming into the building which would not allow them to have access to the entire school throughout different buildings in the district. Other improvements include handicap accessibility totaling $150,000, technology upgrades totaling $500,000, HVAC upgrades totaling $900,000 and asphalt improvements totaling $500,000.

The district would be responsible for $5.6 million of this work.