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Looking forward to a new Lee Hunter by looking back


Posted Date: 01/13/2020

Thumbnail Image for Article Looking forward to a new Lee Hunter by looking back

Credit: Standard Democrat

During the last day of class before recent Christmas Break, a group of Lee Hunter Elementary alumni revisited the school they attended more than 60 years ago. They reminisced on walking to their neighborhood school and how excited they were to have a new Lee Hunter which opened in 1954.

Rob Collins, Rob Mitchell and Randy York revisited the present-day Lee Hunter. They discussed how the facility will be replaced if Sikeston voters pass the $21 million bond issue on April 7.

“Building a new Lee Hunter is key to building our community back,” said York, who was in the first 1954 class. York and his wife, Charlotte, have been business owners in Sikeston for more than 40 years and raised their two daughters here. Charlotte York served on the Sikeston Board of Education from 1990 to 1993.

Collins came to Lee Hunter in 1956. Collins’ father served as band director for Sikeston R-6. Collins has remained in Sikeston and raised his family here.

Mitchell started second grade at Lee Hunter in 1954. He recalled walking to school and attending a new school with an up-to-date design. The cul de sac where Mitchell spent many years is located just across the street. Mitchell took over management of his family insurance agency and now works side-by-side with his daughter, Beth, who attended Sikeston R-6.

“Mrs. Margaret Cain was the first principal of the 1954 version of the new Lee Hunter,” said Mitchell. The men exchanged fond memories of Cain and how important those years were to them.

All three men said they see the age and condition of the Lee Hunter as a major need for Sikeston R-6.

“Safety and security are of utmost importance to this school,” said Mitchell. “We cannot assume old facilities can secure our children and teachers to today’s standards.”

The Better Schools for Better Communities Committee is seeking a yes vote for Phase 2 of the Master Facilities Plan. This includes building a new Lee Hunter Elementary and a new C Building on the Senior High School campus. Totaled in the $21 million includes razing the old Lee Hunter and Matthews Elementary School. A safe space is planned on the Kindergarten Center campus to be used as a storm shelter and multi-purpose facility. Construction of the safe space is not included in the $21-million bond request. A potential grant from SEMA and FEMA would assist in funding this construction.

If passed, the bond levy will be an 11 percent increase on personal and property taxes.

“Sikeston R-6 schools will still have one of the lowest debt levies in the area,” Katie Merideth, co-chair of the Better Schools for Better Communities.

By comparison, Cape Girardeau has a debt levy of 66 cents per $100 of assessed value and Farmington sits at 90 cents. If passed, Sikeston would go to 63 cents per $100 of assessed value.

“Better school facilities and learning opportunities attract more businesses, citizens and students that bringing about an increased tax base, as well as increased property values for the whole city,” said Cooper McKelvey, co-chair, Better Schools for Better Communities.

Mitchell used the new Wing Elementary in the south section of Sikeston as an example of the benefits of a new school.

“Safety, security and pride are just a few of our results,” said Mitchell. “These days we do not need to make our students vulnerable to disruptions in their learning and safety. We need to seriously consider that for our families.”

“We hope Sikeston voters go to our website at schools4sikeston.com to find more information or attend the public town hall Jan. 28 at 5:30 p.m. at Lee Hunter,” added Merideth.

There will be a panel discussion and tours of Lee Hunter.

“Concerned citizens need to come and see the conditions the students and teachers work with every school day,” she said.