Critical decisions are ahead for R-6 voters

Saturday, February 25, 2017

In just over a month, Sikeston voters will take to the polls to decide the fate of an $11 million bond issue to construct a new elementary school and to seat three new members of the Board of Education from a field of seven candidates.

Putting it mildly, this is a very important election for the future of our local school system.

On the heels of an unsuccessful bond issue three years ago, the school board and administration have revised their plans and now offer a much smaller, less expensive and much needed project to replace the aging Matthews Elementary School.

If approved by Sikeston voters, the bond issue will finance the construction of a state-of-the-art facility to replace the 1950s era Matthew Elementary.

To be constructed on property donated to the city by Sikeston developer Scott Matthews, the new facility would be the first phase of a multi-year plan to upgrade old facilities and address the needs of Sikeston students.

Later phases of the plan call for the replacement of Lee Hunter Elementary along with some much needed changes to our high school.

It's also important to note that the bond issue will not create a tax increase for Sikeston residents. That element alone makes this proposal highly attractive.

A glance at regional headlines shows that many school systems in our area are making similar plans for system infrastructure improvements. A rejection of the April bond issue will only serve to put our system at a continued disadvantage.

The race for school board - given the upcoming changes in our system - is as critical as any time in recent memory.

Seven candidates hope to replace three retiring board members and the task before them is challenging, to say the least.

What we need and deserve in our local system is strength, conviction and leadership without the divisive rhetoric that has plagued our community.

We need to elect leaders who are up to the challenge of a changing school environment and who have the best interests of our students above all else.

To have this many candidates is a sign of an engaged community with individuals willing to devote their time and energies working to make this school system the best possible.

Our wish today as it always is for Sikeston residents to join together to push this school district forward, to assure quality education for all and to work in a cooperative manner to assure that we are doing our very best for the future leaders of our community.

Michael Jensen

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