The bond issue would add an estimated 12 cents to the debt service levy, although specifics have yet to be determined and will be based on the facilities plan package which has yet to be finalized.

A lengthy list of School of the Osage facility upgrades including creation of an Early Childhood Center is part of a preliminary proposal to seek voter approval in April of an estimated $22 million bond issue -- all part of a long-range facilities plan.

The bond issue would add an estimated 12 cents to the debt service levy, although specifics have yet to be determined and will be based on the facilities plan package which has yet to be finalized.

The board of education recently voted to have Sapp Design Architects of Springfield move forward with a more complete set of designs for projects at each of the four SOTO buildings, and also voted to have George K. Baum & Co. investment bankers of Kansas City develop financing options. The board approved motions related to moving the district's facilities plan forward:

• Approved the Master Plan Phase 1 architectural and engineering recommendations to include the Early Childhood Center

• Authorized the sale of general obligation school refunding bonds to refund prior bonds issued by the School of the Osage resulting in interest cost savings of an estimated $966,000.

At the core of the proposal is construction of a stand-alone Early Childhood Center where the former Leland O. Mills Elementary School was located before lower elementary grades were re-located to a renovated Heritage Building.

School officials have discussed the details of the district's long-term needs for several months with the help of Sapp Design.

"In the district's first Strategic Plan, we had Pre-K Readiness as one of our needs and that was five years ago," Depeé told the board. "We had 50 preschoolers and two classrooms then. Five years later, we have five classrooms and 100 preschoolers and we're turning applicants down because we don't have the room at Heritage."

There are students being underserved, he noted, and there are no empty classrooms at Heritage as the district has grown in recent years.

And he anticipates more growth within the district.

Economic development groups in the lake area are focusing on housing and jobs growth, Depeé said, and recent housing developments on Fish Haven Road in Lake Ozark are expected to bring more young families to the Osage District.

"I see our needs going up," he predicted.

Depeé said as he looks at other lake-area school districts, he looks at ways to distinguish School of the Osage from the other schools.

"How many have Early Childhood? None do, not even Camdenton, and I think this is our time to be progressive, to be innovative," he said.

"I think adding to our capacity, fulfilling our current needs and adding to the capacity for future growth is important as we move forward," board member Todd Miller said.

Depee agreed: "I see it putting us academically in better shape than most schools," he said.

A snapshot of what's planned

Heritage Campus

• Enlarge the playground

• Add a service elevator

• Construct an Early Childhood Center

Upper Elementary Campus

• Improve traffic flow and address parking lot drainage issues.

• Provide safety enhancements to building entrance to match other district buildings.

• Renovate the kitchen.

• Evaluate possibly moving current Information Technology offices.

Middle School

• Eliminate drainage issues in front of building.

• Create natural turf competition soccer facility behind Middle School to include a field house, bleachers, lighting and parking.

• Create multi-purpose practice area adjacent to soccer field.

High School

• Renovate existing field house at athletic field to include new public restroom facilities, and build new field house to include new locker rooms, a new alternative school and new community room. The facility would provide emergency storm shelter for athletes and patrons.

• Revamp entryway into campus from Highway 42 to recirculate traffic flow to improve safety and to separate bus traffic from pickup and drop-off of high school and upper elementary students. Bus traffic would be re-routed to enter and leave through gated area near the athletic field.

• Renovate Cummings Auditorium to improve audio-visual quality, to create a double entrance into the auditorium to reduce interference from outside light and sound and to make the auditorium ADA compliant.

• Convert existing band room to vocal music practice facility.

• Convert existing shop and art rooms into band room.

• Add new construction for shop, art, CAD and technology areas.