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Callaway schools 'excited' about growth potential

Callaway schools are excited for the possibility of growth that would come with the expansion of the power plant.

South Callaway Superintendent Mary Lynn Battles and Fulton Superintendent Jacque Cowherd were both optimistic about economic and population growth.

“I am excited for South Callaway Schools,” Battles said. “I was living in Fulton when the first plant was constructed. It impacted Callaway in a huge way. Many things were very positive and there were some things that were a challenge. Public schools in Callaway County had a sudden growth. It’s hard to accommodate growth overnight.”

Cowherd welcomed the growth.

“Our enrollment is 2,100 students this year. At a high 10 or 11 years ago, we had 2,400 students,” he said. “We have some capacity for additional students. We would welcome those students and we have the opportunity to add them without incurring much cost.”

Battles was especially happy to see the economic growth that would help revenue for the schools.

“It would be my hope that we would benefit from additional local revenue. I can not speak to how that distribution would be configured, but I do know that across the state, when assessed valuation increases, revenue for the school district increases,” she said. “Camdenton, for example, has seen a lot of growth at the lake and the outlet mall. They have benefited from the increase in assessed valuation and they’ve grown quickly in student population as well.”

Cowherd agreed.

“We think the revenue stream will help us. The tax dollars for the initial construction phase may not benefit us because of how legislation currently reads, but we will benefit from the increase of sales taxes statewide,” he said. “And we are optimistic that people will buy homes here and we will receive those additional property taxes.

These are high-quality individuals who will come here and send their kids to Fulton schools for a better education.”

According to Battles, the boost to Missouri schools’ economy is needed.

“This comes at a time when things are very tight,” she said. “As a superintendent, the increased revenue is almost a necessity for survival because of such a slump in state revenue coming in. This is a positive for this county, a positive for South Callaway Schools and a positive for the Missouri economy.”

And with the possibility of increased growth, Battles said the increased revenue is a must.

“We are struggling with maintaining what we have. The cost of maintaining our current facilities is extraordinary and funding is on the decline. The thought of having to expand without having that revenue — well, you just can’t do it.”

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