Three Questions on Education Up for Vote in Taney County

Apr 1, 2015

Taney County voters will go to the polls April 7th
Credit Creative Commons/LWVC

Voters in Taney County will decide three proposals on April 7th dealing with education.   

One question asks whether the Branson School District should become a part of and be annexed to Ozarks Technical Community College.

Cliff Davis, president of the OTC Table Rock Campus, explains that a vote “yes” will reduce OTC  tuition for Branson students.

If the proposition passes, residents of the Branson School District can attend OTC at $95 per credit hour, as opposed to the out of district rate of $142 per hour.

In addition to the reduced tuition, Davis says the tax money will be used for OTC expansion.

“The problem is, right now, we’re limited with the number of offerings we have. Assuming the Branson school district votes us into their taxing district, we will be able to offer new programs,” said Davis.

Implementing the measure does mean a tax increase for Branson residents. Davis says Springfield’s current OTC tax would then apply to those in Branson.

“The average home, if you put it at about $100,000, will pay $36 a year,” Davis says.

For the Bradleyville School District (Also part of Christian County), the Board of Education is proposing a tax increase in order to improve the overall quality of school.  A vote yes means a .5% increase in the tax levy ceiling.

According to Bradleyville High School Principle Scott Ewing, the proposition will mean a minor increase in taxes for the voters. For example, he estimates that a resident with an assessed home valuation of $100,000 will pay a total of four or five dollars more each month to the school district.

Ewing adds that this proposal is long overdue.

“I think it was 1993, the last time that we asked for an increase, and it’s just hard to operate in today’s economy from money that was coming in 20 years ago,” Ewing explains.

Another proposition on the ballot asks whether the Hollister School District should borrow $4.2 million to improve facilities.

Bryan Wilson, superintendent of Hollister Schools, says the proposition has no monetary effect on voters, as is not expected to change the district’s debt service levy. A vote “yes” will not raise taxes, and a vote “no” will not lower taxes.

What a “yes” vote will do, Wilson says, is improve three main areas: safety measures, expansion, and updated technology.

“We have things we’re going to accomplish at each and every building, whether it’s the early childhood, Pre-K, all the way up to twelfth grade,” Wilson says.

Wilson says the money will be used to upgrade video cameras and increase playground fencing. Eight classrooms will be added for the expanding early childhood education program, and a school farm and an official facility will be created for the Hollister’s agriculture education program. For technology, Wilson says the school is hoping to increase the ratio to one device for every student.

“We’re trying to put the right tool for the time in the hands of our kids.”

He adds the bond also allows for a three percent growth for the next few years.

“We’re planning for the future growth, we’re planning for the future needs of our students, to prepare them so they are going to be able to compete once they exit our district, whether it’s in a career or in college. We’re looking out for a little bit and allowing for growth, both educationally and as well as the populations of students.”

In addition to the three propositions, Taney County voters will choose among several candidates.

Two positions are up for grabs on the Branson Board of Education. Citizens will also elect a mayor and three alderman positions.

Hollister voters will also choose the aldermen for Wards I and II, along with two directors for the Board of Education.

In Forsyth, one person is running unopposed for mayor, along with two alderman positions.

Two are on the ballot for mayor of Rockaway Beach, and three aldermen must be selected.

Voters will elect one trustee for Taneyvile, two trustees in Bull Creek and Kirbyville, and three trustees for both Merriam Woods and Saddlebrooke.

The Public Water Supply Directors for Sub-Districts 2 and 5 are on the ballot, along with the director for the Central Taney County Fire Protection District. Additionally, directors will be chosen for the Taney County Ambulance District 2 and 5.

View a compilation sample ballot for Taney County here.