BOLIVAR, Mo. — Bolivar voters have rejected a partnership with Ozarks Technical Community College (OTC).

The Polk County Clerk reported 57% of voters said no to the proposal while 42% said yes.

The “no” vote means the tax levy will not increase and students who attend OTC will continue to pay out-of-district tuition.

Superintendent Richard Asbill said he hoped the measure would pass, but now he says they’re back to square one.

“The way the law is this can only go on a November ballot,” Asbill said. “And so it’s unlikely that we would do this again. The timing would be the November presidential election. It’s not really the best time to run those type of issues. So we would probably have to go back to the drawing board and look at what our other options would be.”

Asbill said the district received a lot of feedback about the measure and believed many valued the partnership. He was hopeful there would be good voter turnout, and results show 21% of registered voters came out to cast their ballot.

OTC is also looking to build a campus in Bolivar but this vote is not tied into that project. The district says OTC has already applied for funding to build a campus, but with a “no” vote, getting approval could become more difficult.

“We completely understand that the will of the voters on that. We have to start looking and realizing that probably our work is harder because we still need to bring career and technical opportunities to rural Missourians,” Asbill said. “And so that challenge doesn’t change and we just have to find a new pathway to look at how we can bridge that gap between Springfield and rural Missouri and what OTC offers.”