Dr. Dan Vandiver, superintendent of the Houston School District, addresses a crowd Tuesday night in the high school cafeteria during a forum to discuss plans to construct a new high school. Vandiver said the cafeteria is too small, and it results in some students attending class, eating and then returning to the classroom because of split shifts required to feed students. The situation, he said, hinders the learning process.

Patrons of the Houston School District received information Tuesday night about a proposed new high school construction project – the third and final forum before voters go to the polls April 7.

The meeting was at the Houston High School cafeteria, where middle school and high school students eat in different shifts because of inadequate space. Representatives of the school district, an architectural firm and a bonding company were available to answer questions.

At a meeting last week, members of a steering committee heard good news on a construction trend in southwest Missouri.

A soft economy has made construction more affordable as the cost of materials declined and firms try to find employment to keep their crews together. The most recent school building bid process in southwest Missouri saw many competitors and a much lower bid per square foot than anticipated.

Houston’s construction project includes about 35,000 square foot of new space for the high school classrooms, laboratories and a cafeteria, as well as renovations on campus to accommodate additional library resources and hold some middle school functions in the current high school building.

Two issues are before voters: One is a $5 million bond issue that will be serviced by the current levy. The other is a $2.5 million capital facilities lease that requires a levy increase of about 43 cents per $100 assessed valuation. What will that cost taxpayers?

The owner of a $100,000 home would see about $7 monthly in additional taxes. A farmer with 500 acres of the best category of farmland would see about $4 additional per month.

The high school, on the site of the unused fine arts building, would attach with Hiett Gymnasium and includes 11 classrooms, a kitchen, commons area, library and computer and science laboratory space on two levels. The plan was developed after multiple meetings with several groups.

Video presentation on proposal.

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