When new students start learning at Nixa High School, Principal Mark McGehee offers them some simple advice: get involved.
“There is no disputing that the research shows that students who are successful in school are students who are plugged into their school,” McGehee said. “Every year when freshmen come in, I tell my students, ‘I expect you to be involved in something. Find something you love, find something you want to do.’ That helps them plug in, their academics improve.”
McGehee said activity involvement is also helpful to students when they apply to universities and colleges. Involvement is a key part of the message McGehee and other Nixa educations want voters to consider with a pair of ballot questions in the election April 2.
Question 1 is a debt service bond issue for various projects. Question 2 is a change to the school district’s current operating levy. There is no tax increase attached to Question 1. Question 2 would increase the operating levy in the Nixa school district by 41 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The school district estimates that the passage of Question 2 would cause a property tax increase of approximately $6.49 per month on a home assessed at $100,000.
Fine arts facilities
Nixa Public Schools offered a list of capital improvement projects it will pursue if voters give their approval to Questions 1 and 2. At the high school, they include construction of a performing arts center capable of seating at least 1,000 people. The current theater seats about 550. Nixa’s band, choir and drama groups stage multiple performances for each of their productions.
“We’re selling those out, but there are people who aren’t seeing our drama productions because they can’t get a ticket,” McGehee said.
Under the proposal, what is now the theater would be turned into the band’s practice room.
“The band room was designed to accommodate about 125 or 150 students. The marching band was at about 265 students this year,” McGehee said.
The theater classroom and band classrooms would be remodeled, and the choir room would be expanded.
Standing room only
In addition to fine arts, Nixa’s athletic programs would be impacted by the bond issue. Eagle Stadium would be remodeled to expand the stadium’s seating.
“It’s been a problem for some time. We’ve been dealing with it and our public has been very understanding, but there needs to be a solution to that because we’re simply out of seats,” McGehee said.
Assistant Principal and Activities Director Brandon Clark explained the seating at Eagle Stadium by pointing out the school’s enrollment of 1,700, and what it would look like if the entire student body came to Eagle Stadium.
“We are not able to hold all of our student body in these stands,” Clark said.
At home football games, seating is always at a premium, creating a scramble for seats when the gates open. Those who don’t arrive early, are left to stand.
“We will put anywhere from 500 to 2,000 people standing on our track. When we host games like Ozark and Webb City, it can even be more than that, so that’s rough wear and tear on our track,” Clark said.
New concession stands would be located to the north of the home stands, which would create compliance with food safety guidelines from the state and from the Christian County Health Department. A main entrance would bring spectators into the stadium parallel to the 50-yard line. The reconfiguration, Clark said, would open up foot traffic on the concourses.
“They are full. Traffic is extremely tight. When you’re brining that many people into the sports and activities complex, there is nowhere for them to go,” Clark said.
In addition to football, Eagle Stadium hosts soccer matches, track meets and marching band competitions.
Across the district
Nixa Board of Education President Scott McDonald pointed out that there were less than 1,000 students at Nixa High School when the campus opened about 20 years ago, and there are now about 1,700 students.
“We built a tremendous amount of elementary schools over the past 20 years because we had to, it was a necessity. It was a great move, but you also kind of forget that the high school is 20 years old,” McDonald said.
Some of the other projects in the plan will not be as noticeable as renovations to a football stadium. The plan calls for classroom infill in spaces at High Pointe Elementary and Summit Intermediate, improved entrances at High Pointe and Century Elementary, multipurpose gym construction at Century and Espy Elementary, plus HVAC system and roof repairs at buildings across the school district.
Superintendent Gearl Loden explained that roof repairs probably won’t dazzle voters, but that they are costly.
“A new roof at Inman will probably be between $800,000 and a million dollars,” Loden said.
Dr. Loden said that now that the plan has been declared, educators and school board members will be selling the plan to prospective voters. That will involve speaking to civic organizations and clubs throughout Nixa.
“We have a good calendar we’re working on. From mid-February to April we’ll be very busy. If I’m not there, we’ll be dividing and conquering. One thing about Nixa, there are a lot of groups, so we’ll be dividing, conquering and going after the different groups,” Loden said.
Nixa Public Schools capital improvement projects linked to Questions 1 and 2
-Classroom additions at Century Elementary that would allow the school to add fourth grade classes
-Remodeling at Eagle Stadium at Nixa High School with expanded seating and concession areas
-Construction of a performing arts center at Nixa High School, which would seat at least 1,000 people, to replace the current theater and remodel theater classroom areas
-Remodel the current theater into a band room
-Expand the Nixa High School choir room
-Expand additional classroom space at Nixa High School
-High Pointe Elementary and Century Elementary would receive upgrades to their entrances to allow for a more secure and controlled entry into the school.
-Roof repairs at Inman Intermediate
-Classroom infill at High Pointe Elementary and Summit Intermediate School
-Multipurpose room/gym construction and Century Elementary and at Espy Elementary
-HVAC system upgrades at buildings across the district on an as-needed basis
-Roof repairs on an as-needed basis across the district