Petitions circulated to set school bond referendum

Cost pegged at close to $21.5 million

Organizers working toward building a new Greene County High School with an adjacent career academy on Tuesday began circulating the necessary petition to call for an election on April 3.

A bond referendum will ask for approval of an amount not to exceed $21,480,000 to build a new high school that includes a competition gym and performing arts center; to build a regional career academy; and to remodel the current high school to house grades 5-8 and administrative offices.

The number of signatures needed to call for the election is 194. That number is based on the number of people who voted in the most recent school election.

The next step in the process is to present the petition to the board of education. The board will hold a special meeting  Wednesday, Feb. 14, at 5:15 pm at the administrative building to accept the petition. It must be at the county auditor’s office by Feb. 16. The election will be April 3.

Organizers are still working to secure other funding for the competition gym. Cost of the gym has been estimated at about $4 million.

The proposed project and bond referendum are on an aggressive schedule because of the secretary of state’s election calendar. After April, the next available date for a special school election is Sept. 11.

School superintendent Tim Christensen explained at the school board’s January meeting that the ballot question must name the maximum amount to be borrowed. After private funding is secured for the gym and performing arts center, the debt levy rate property owners pay will be decreased accordingly.

This will be the third bond referendum put before voters. The first two referendums included an addition to the elementary school, an addition to the high school large enough to accommodate grades 9-12, and renovations to the high school to make it suitable for grades 5-8. A $20 million request in September 2015 failed by a 3:2 margin. A request for $19.4 million in September 2016 gained a majority of votes but not the 60 percent “super majority” needed for approval.

Since then, the addition to the elementary school has been completed. The $1.7 million project was paid for with funds from the 1-cent sales tax and the physical plant and equipment levy (PPEL).

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