SWEDEBORG, Mo. (April 7, 2010) — The Swedeborg R-III School Board will have to break a tie between two candidates, incumbent board member Greg Black and challenger Libby A. Poulson, but that’s likely to be the least of the district’s problems in the future.
Black and Poulson both received 89 votes; board member Judy Moss, who was appointed earlier this year to fill a vacancy, received 107 votes. The top two candidates are elected to a three-year term, but whoever fills the second of those two slots will face difficult problems.
Swedeborg is Pulaski County’s last remaining K-8 district, offering only elementary and middle school classes and sending its high school students elsewhere. Most of those students choose to go to Richland High School but some go to Crocker High School and a few choose other districts such as Waynesville. That means the district has large tuition payments to the high schools, and that issue combined with economic problems has created serious financial challenges for the small district.
The district’s board had asked voters to approve a tax increase that would have upped the district’s levy to a point where the district would have qualified for special state funds available only to schools that reach a state-recommended tax levy, but voters on Tuesday rejected the tax vote by a margin of 102 to 62.
That’s the second time voters have turned down the tax proposal.
The vote was complicated by a train wreck on election day that derailed several cars carrying hazardous substances, including anhydrous ammonia, and forced the evacuation of the school and moving of the polling place to the Crocker location of the Pulaski County Health Department. It’s not clear yet whether the train derailment had any effect on turnout, but unexpectedly changing a polling place would ordinarily be expected to reduce turnout by confusing voters.