Councilman Jimmy Ledbetter Jr.

Councilman Jimmy Ledbetter Jr.

One of Nixa’s biggest assets is its public school district. I don’t think anyone would disagree with that statement. One of the reasons I moved to Nixa was to give my children, Chance and Kaitlyn, the best educational opportunities possible. 

Apart from my perspective as a parent of students in the district, I am also fortunate enough to see our district from the perspective inside the classroom. I help teach a class once a month at Nixa High School, which has been an opportunity to learn how the Nixa Public Schools operate like a well-oiled machine. As a council representative, I am passionate about keeping that machine in pristine operating condition, which is why I hope you will join me in voting “yes” on both ballot issues on April 2.

There are two questions on the ballot. The first one will not raise the tax levy. The money that comes from this can only be used for renovation and construction. The school board will use this money to fix various problems, including roofs and air conditioners which are overdue for replacement. This money would also allow us to make needed improvements at the stadium and at Century Elementary. Please join me in voting “yes” on Question 1 to help us make these much needed repairs and improvements.

The second question is the one which asks us to make an investment in our schools. If approved, Question 2 would allow teacher raises, construction of a performing arts center, additional classroom expansions across the district, as well as stadium improvements. Nixa has always been on the cutting edge of everything from teaching styles to technology to educational leadership. I am constantly in awe of what our innovative district leadership and teachers come up with to invest in our children. If you are like me and want to continue to see the bar raised, please join me in voting “yes” on Question 2.

Here are three reasons I believe voting “yes” on Question 2 is absolutely worth the investment:

First, we need to invest more in our teachers. Nixa pays a lower starting wage than the schools in Ozark, Springfield, Willard and Republic. If Question 2 is passed we will be increasing not only starting teacher pay, but all teacher salaries across the district. We ask a lot of our teachers and we should compensate them accordingly.

Second, we need to expand classroom space. Century Elementary needs to move its fourth graders back from Summit. The high school also needs to expand its available classroom space. In 20 years, enrollment has grown almost 70 perent, so we need to fund the classroom infills to meet current need and make room for the even larger elementary cohorts who will be heading to the high school before we know it.

Third, we need to invest in the community. When I ran for city council, my main platform was “community,” because citizens were concerned the sense of community was dwindling. Well, here is an amazing opportunity to invest in our sports complex and performing arts center, community spaces where we come together to enjoy a better quality of life.

By expanding the stadium, we will not only provide more seating for our families to come together and make improvements to the concessions area so it won’t take an entire quarter of a football game waiting in line just to get a hot dog, but most importantly, we will be providing adequate facilities to attract and host regional track meets, band competitions, and other district events. Such all-day and multi-day regional events draw visitors to Nixa who will spend money at our restaurants and shops.

The same is true of the proposed performing arts center. This center is tremendously exciting because it would mean Nixa could finally host the kind of large productions and concerts we are currently turning away because we don’t have the adequate space. We will be able to attract shows that might otherwise go to Juanita K. Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts in Springfield. The school district already has the attention of touring shows which would love to put on performances for the Nixa audience, now it needs the space to host them. We could have a local theater, a space for corporate trainings, and many other events which would, in turn, attract more restaurants to Nixa. Plus, it would provide a quality educational environment for our performing arts students in the band, choir, and theater programs.

Remember, for all of these things to happen, both questions must pass. Vote “yes” twice on April 2.

An investment in our youth keeps our community strong today and in the future. Strong schools equals strong community.

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