In the previous April election, voters in the Shelby County R-lV School District approved of a tax increase levy by .73 cents to fund the construction of a new elementary building at the location of the current district middle and high school which is located a few miles west of Shelbina, Missouri – the consolidation of the Shelbina and Clarence Elementary. With Proposition 1 taking the front seat of attention in both the Shelby County R-lV and Macon R-1 School District, many questions have surrounded the Clarence Elementary and the future plans of the building and the uses of the facility.

With one of the biggest concerns between both elementary facilities including the Clarence Elementary that lead to the consolidation vote, is the aging buildings. On June 13th, with a decision of 7-0, the Shelby County R-lV School Board approved to keep both elementary buildings open for two years until the new elementary is ready for the 2020-2021 school year – Scott Gough made the motion with Jim Foster providing a second. On July 28th I reached out to Superintendent Tim Maddex and asked about the district’s plan for the Clarence Elementary if redistricting is voted down by voters on August 7th – any long-term plans? Mr. Maddex responded by stating, “It will be open for two more years. We are forming a committee to help develop plans for both elementary schools. The goal of the group is to investigate ways to help make the buildings a viable source for the community.”

Through email correspondence, Superintendent of Shelby County R-lV Tim Maddex also provided numbers of the staff and faculty at Clarence Elementary; 15 certified staff, 9 non-certified staff, and 1 principal. Mr. Maddex also provided financial reports of the Clarence Elementary. With salaries, cost of special education, library, early childhood, etc. annually, the Clarence Elementary costs the Shelby County R-lV School District almost one million dollars each year to run ($983,172.09). I also spoke to Mr. Maddex over the phone and asked about the plans for the faculty and staff of both elementary buildings after they are completely consolidated and closed. He stated that through attrition and retirements, the district has plans on absorbing a strong majority of teachers and staff into the new elementary and throughout the school.

In a released Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) sheet, Macon Superintendent Scott Jarvis addresses the Clarence Elementary. He stated: “At this point, the Macon County R-1 School District does not have a definite long-range plan for the Clarence Elementary building due to many factors that simply cannot be determined at this point; however, the Macon County R-1 School District would likely utilize the Clarence Elementary building for two years and start transitioning a few grades to Macon County R-1 Elementary during the second year. Any further use of the building would depend on the condition of the building, among other things. Assuming the building is in good condition, the district has considered many options for using the Clarence Elementary building if the boundary charge occurred, such as using the facility for credit recovery, Missouri Option Program (the HiSET test, which replaced the GED), as part of the Career Technical Center, or for adult education classes. However, until the district actually acquires the building and can determine its condition, the costs associated with maintaining the building, and other factors, the district cannot determine how the building will be used if the boundary change occurs.”

On July 25th, I reached out through email to Macon Superintendent Scott Jarvis. I asked three questions: [1] If voters in both communities (or arbitrators) approve of redistricting, which district will be signing the checks for employees at the Clarence Elementary – you stated that you plan on keeping it open for up to two years? [2] Do you plan on having an additional principal over there (Clarence Elementary)? How many teachers? Other staff? [3] Who will be in charge of transportation? How does the district plan on transporting kids to the Clarence Elementary (Shelby County Kids) and then any other kids (6th grade above) to the Macon Campus? Superintendent Jarvis responded with, “As I have stated before many questions individuals have about this topic will not be answered unless the issue actually passes (by voters) and arbitration takes place. I do not think it would be appropriate for me to attempt to answer these questions at this time. These decisions will have to be determined by the Board of Education and the administrative team if the issue passes.”

On July 24th, at the Macon Public Forum, Excellence Through Opportunity (Pro-Redistricting) reported that if redistricting were to occur the expenses that Macon would face could be “two additional busses and bus drivers and four additional teachers. Total annual expenses: $277,500.”

It is uncertain that if redistricting is passed by voters on August 7th, how Macon R-1 will handle the employment of faculty and staff at Clarence Elementary (16 certified and 9 non-certified), the expense that the elementary brings ($983,172.09) and whether or not Macon R-1 has any plans for faculty and staff of the Clarence Elementary once Macon R-1 transfers students onto the main campus once the Macon R-1 Elementary Addition is completed and closes the Clarence Elementary. Originally, Superintendent Scott Jarvis of Macon stated that it would not be "financially sound" to keep the Clarence Elementary open after the addition is complete at Macon. Furthermore, Superintendent Jarvis also stated that if the boundary change does happen, that will not prevent the Clarence Elementary from being closed, again, once the Macon R-1 Elementary Addition is completed.

Voters in both the Macon R-1 and Shelby County R-lV School Districts head to the ballot box tomorrow (August 7th) to cast their votes. A "Yes Vote" is in favor of school redistricting (Prop 1) while a "No Vote" is against school redistricting (Prop 1).