On April 8, voters in the Eldon School District voted to approve a no tax increase bond issue.

On April 8, voters in the Eldon School District voted to approve a no tax increase bond issue.

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

This bond issue will allow the district to build and renovate buildings including a tornado safe room, the district's fine arts auditorium and to install safety upgrades throughout the district.

During the most recent school board meeting, the Eldon School District awarded a contract to GBH Builders to construct the Early Learning Center/Tornado Safe Room for $2,070,600.  Construction will begin the last week of May and is scheduled to be completed by February 27, 2015.

 The safety entrances into the school are being currently designed by the architect and should be completed by the start of school in August.

 According to Superintendent Matt Davis, the architect will begin the process for the renovation of the Fine Arts Center soon.  The initial step will be meeting with the staff determine the specific needs of those involved.

 "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 in a previous interview with the Lake Sun. "When not being used as a tornado safe room, the building will be multifunctional. One of the key concepts of the building is the fact that 1200 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. Approximately 3,500 square feet of the building will be an open multipurpose area which can be used for Parents as Teachers activities, indoor recess, and after school practice facilities, particularly our wrestling program, among other things."

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 will also be able 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.