In December 2019, the board of education unanimously passed a resolution to place a $30.7 million referendum for much-needed facility improvements on the March 17, 2020 ballot.
Last April, voters soundly rejected a $50 million referendum causing the board to go back to the drawing board and return to the community with a revised and greatly reduced proposal.
The board and administration carefully reviewed the needs at each school, project by project. As board member Kurt Hansen said, “We really spent a lot of time to get consensus, not only from the board, but from some of our more outspoken critics.”
This time, extensive cafeteria renovations were scaled back, updates and repairs for Pleviak School were removed along with 21st Century learning initiatives. Since the failure at the polls in April, nearly two dozen public meetings have been held to solicit input and discuss building and maintenance needs in order to revise the request. Two more community meetings are planned to inform the community about the needs of the district. Both will be held at the district board room at Palombi Middle School. One will be held at 4 p.m. on February 24th and the other will be held on Monday, March 2nd at 7 p.m.
District facilities are aging and major repairs are necessary to address the failing infrastructure. Palombi Middle School and Hooper Elementary School are fifty-two and sixty-three years old respectively. Even the district’s newer schools Martin Elementary and Thompson Elementary are twenty years old.
On a positive note for the taxpayer, the district’s outstanding debt will drop off as money borrowed in 1997 and 2000 to build Thompson and Martin Elementary Schools is paid off. If the referendum fails, the tax bill for the owner of a $250,000 house would decrease by $773 annually. If the referendum passes and we borrow the money for 15 years, we will be able to make the necessary repairs and updates and that same homeowner will still see an approximate decrease of $368 annually.
Residents can learn more about the referendum by visiting the district’s website at district41.org.