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Jefferson City reacts to failure of bond and tax levy at the polls

Despite years of planning, Jefferson City is now left without funding for a new high school and additional debt.

Jefferson City School District leaders had a planned to build a new high school revolving around a $79 million bond issue and a tax levy. The school even purchased 120 acres for the new campus involving a single high school consisting of separate academies.

On Tuesday night, voters overwhelmingly turned down that measure by a nearly three-to-one margin.

City residents tell ABC 17 News they have wanted another option all along: Two separate high schools.

Now the district is left with a $3 million piece of property, no bond money and several questions about what went wrong.

“The people voted yesterday and it should have sent a clear message to these school board members,” said
Dan Ortmeyer.

Ortmeyer says residents were against paying higher taxes, but also wanted to reiterate that having just one high school is the wrong plan.

“The majority of the people in the school district want a second high school,” he said. “Through the surveys they’ve done before, it showed people preferred a second high school by 74 percent.”

Now, school official are open to options.

“So now what we do is step back, take a deep breath, and start listening,” said Jefferson City Public Schools spokesman David Luther said.

Luther tells ABC 17 News that it’s not likely citizens will see anything on the ballot within the year, but there is still a real need.

“We’ve got a space issue, and some of the things that were on the levy, those are critical,” said Luther.

School officials say they plan to set up several forums and open meetings so taxpayers can tell district leaders what they want and what they are willing to vote for.

Ortmeyer and his group of residents, who support they two high school plan, say they are looking forward to meeting with school leaders and believe they could be the board’s greatest assets.

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