(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) The St. Joseph School District is working to make a correction after a clerical error put the wrong price tag on a question facing voters.
The ballot question was given to about 850 absentee voters in Buchanan County.
The wording asked voters to allow the district to use $31.9 million in obligation bonds to improve facilites and construct a new elementary school.
The problem with that figure - it's about $10 million shy of the amount approved for the ballot measure by the school board.
The ballot should have asked for the approval of $42 million instead.
The School District says the paperwork was received by the Buchanan County Courthouse on January 19.
One sheet, signed by the board of education, had the correct wording.
The other, which was used in the planning process, had the incorrect
information, but still had the words "official ballot" on it.
That wording made it to the ballot given to absentee voters.
St. Joseph School District Superintendent Dr. Melody Smith assures voters the district is not trying to hide anything and that this was an honest mistake.
"As embarrassing as it is, and as sorry as I am that it happened, we have been very transparent about it. But, sometimes when one is transparent, we get the warts with the process. We have an organization that schools our children. When we have made a mistake, we have always stepped forward and said, 'we made a mistake,'" she said.
Smith said approximately 710 absentee voters had already returned their ballots.
There is a state statute that addresses ballot errors. Under the statute, the School District's attorneys will appear before a judge Monday to request the ballot language be changed to the $42 million as planned.
The cost to reprint, program and ship the ballots, if approved, will
be roughly $20,000.
Buchanan County Clerk Mary Baack-Garvey says that cost would be passed on to the district.
She said she shares part of the blame with the district, but says it was an honest mistake.
"I should've called to say 'which one is it,' but we take what they submit. If it says official ballot, that's the one we go with," said Baack-Garvey.
The ballot measure is scheduled to go before voters April 3.