School of the Osage district proposes $22m bond issue for improvements

School of the Osage district to upgrade existing former high school if $22 M bond issue passes.

The Mills Elementary School serves kids Pre-K to second grade, and it's the oldest school in the lake area district, School of the Osage.

Students use the gymnasium not only for physical education classes, but also as a cafeteria. The library has been cut down by half to provide more classroom space. Problems like these have the school district ready to come up with a plan to resolve and renovate.

A $22 million dollar bond issue will be on the ballot April 2nd. Voters will be faced with a 12.9-cent property tax increase, up from $2.72, which is currently the lowest rate in the state.

If the bond passes, the district will still have a lower tax rate than surrounding communities.

The only alternative to this proposal is building a brand new elementary school, which would cost $6 millon more than renovating existing property.

School officials and many residents say the increase will be worth the extra space for kids, teachers, and administrators.

"This will all be renovated, and then we will add a three story, 24 class rooms off the back side of this building," Dr. Brent Depee, superintendent of the School of the Osage, said.

That building is the former School of the Osage high school, which has a historic presence in the community.

"It's always been the big question, what do we do with the old high school? From the very beginning...this thing was built in 1932, I graduated from here in 1967, went all 12 years here in this building," Don Steen, co-chair of the bond issue committee, said.

Several parents were excited about the changes to the parking lot, and the pick up and drop off line. Others are just happy their children will have more space to thrive in school.

"We do need some more room, and this building right now is just sitting empty, so it's got a lot of character and charm... but it does need some updates and some upgrades so we'll see what they have planned for us," parent Melissa Dulle said.

One million dollars will be saved for the high school, which will receive security upgrades and state-of-the-art science labs.