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$59 million bond on Nov. 5 ballot

There’s only one more informational meeting left for community members with remaining questions on the school bond referendum.

Monday night was the second of three of the meetings, designed to give residents in district 22 a chance to speak their minds or ask questions about the proposed $59 million dollar project that would build a new K-3 elementary school and fund building projects district wide.

Over 50 people showed up to the open meeting, which started with a presentation on why a new school needs to be built and how school board members, district leaders and a community steering committee came to the current plan.

The bond referendum is set to go to vote November 5, and will be the only issue on the ballot.

Residents with a home assessed at $100,000 homestead will be asked pay an estimated $133 per year with that going up proportionally with increased home values.

For people who own seasonal homes assessed at $100,000, that amount will be $186 a year.

Commercial and industrial property assessed at $200,000 will pay $724 per year.

Agricultural homesteads assessed at $250,000 will pay $360 a year; non-homestead agricultural land owners with farmland assessed at $2,000 will pay $3.72 per acre per year.

There was little disagreement at the meeting as to whether or not growing enrollment is causing a serious space issue within the district, but there were several questions citizens wanted answered.

One was: Is this an all or nothing vote? Meaning, will the question on the ballot be a yes to the full $59 million dollar bond referendum or no to everything.  That answer was yes — all or nothing.

Another question was: What happens to the Lincoln Education Center and district buildings?

The answer to that is, they will be closed and the district will likely sell them.

“Those dollars will then go into the operating capitol, which is a fund we have every year to do things like paint walls, lay carpet, fix the pool, fix the roof…” answered Superintendent Doug Froke, who says by law that is what the district would be required to do with that money.

There is no debt on either of those buildings.

One audience member concerned about his kids’ class sizes wondered if a new school would mean smaller class sizes for students.

“So far we’ve been able to do a pretty darn good job with class,” said Froke, “but I’ll flip that around and tell you, that if we don’t do something about the space issue right now, you will start to see those class sizes increase. We’ve just got no other place to put them.”

School leaders say the new 1,000 seat elementary school would start out with about 850 students, leaving for growth into the future.

Whether or not more teachers would be hired to bring class sizes down even further is not an issue district leaders are addressing yet.

Another question targeted transportation out to the new K-3 elementary school, which would be located a mile and a half north on Richwood Road.

“Do you foresee there being an issue with busses having to travel that road?” asked one resident at the meeting.

Froke said they are aware that areas surrounding the proposed site are zoned as industrial, which will mean larger trucks will also travel that area, but “the city is aware of what’s happened and which direction we’re thinking of going, and so they’re beginning to put together a plan to address that — possibly widen the infrastructure there.”

The proposed location of the school appears to be the most questioned aspect of the plan by residents at the informational meetings.