# 9: School District Bond Left Stalled, Leading to New Engagement Effort | Local news

The St. Joseph School District had some sort of insurance plan to sell in the spring of 2021, and the community didn’t join, but that wasn’t the end of the story.

Called the CARE Proposal, school district leaders have called on the public to authorize $ 107 million in bond financing for several purposes: to buy the American Family Group regional headquarters campus on Mitchell Avenue and convert it into a high school; renovating Benton and Lafayette high schools and converting them to grade 6-8 buildings; and to reorganize, renovate or close the remaining buildings. In April, a large majority of voters rejected the plan, simultaneously toppling the contested three seats on the Education Council.

Since then, two major developments have perhaps enabled the district to achieve its objectives. First, the federal government has provided massive direct funding to states in an effort to alleviate COVID-19.

The benefiting section of these schools, the Primary and Secondary Education Emergency Relief Fund, has disbursed tens of millions of dollars for SJSD improvements. Now, proper climate control in several auditoriums and gymnasiums exists for the first time and – if current plans go smoothly – HVAC in all three high schools and other buildings will be centralized and modernized. Federal aid made possible much of what local voters decided they would not pay themselves.

Such concrete improvements contrast with the more nebulous project led by Creative Entourage LLC, a St. Louis-based consulting firm. The St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce and the Mosaic Life Care Foundation have hired the organization to create “Vision Forward,” a community engagement process that will convene a large public meeting for the first time in January.

Meeting attendees are ready to discuss anything that needs fixing in the neighborhood and how to go about it, with the idea being to possibly launch a new bond or tax proposal at the end of 2022. or 2023 entirely shaped by the community. Either way, the hope is that Saint Joseph’s voters will trust him enough to approve him at the ballot box. As it stands, recent election cycles will have resulted in a whole new leadership of the Education Council by May 2022.

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