Education

Lisbon voters to decide on 3 bonds Tuesday

$9.2 million would fund classroom work, auditorium, track

Lisbon Superintendent Pat Hocking on Friday describes what new athletic fields and a track would look like at Lisbon High School if district voters on Tuesday approve a three-part school bond proposal. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Lisbon Superintendent Pat Hocking on Friday describes what new athletic fields and a track would look like at Lisbon High School if district voters on Tuesday approve a three-part school bond proposal. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
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LISBON — Voters in the Lisbon Community School District will decide Tuesday whether the district of about 650 students can spend up to $9.2 million on new and remodeled facilities.

The proposed projects — changes to high school classrooms and a new auditorium and track — hinge on the passage of three public measures on the ballot.

The measures must win a supermajority — 60 percent or more — to pass. Voting will be at the Lisbon City Hall, 115 N. Washington, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The first of the three questions would authorize the district to borrow — via bonds — $4.2 million to improve portions of the Lisbon school building. The school, built in the 1950s and ’60s, is where middle and high school students attend classes.

The next two questions would authorize the district to ask for additional funds and then for $5 million to build a school track and an auditorium.

“We have to get a yes on ‘One’ to get to ‘Two,’ and we have to get a yes on ‘Two’ to get to ‘Three,’ ” said Lisbon Superintendent Pat Hocking. “If ‘One’ goes no — we’re done on all three (measures).”

If the first measure for work on the school wins approval, the district’s property tax levy rate will remain about the same, Hocking said — near $17.23 per $1,000 assessed valuation.

If all three measures are approved, the levy would increase to about $18.58.

For a home with an assessed value of $175,000, that would be an annual increase of $120 to $130.

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Explaining Tuesday’s crowded ballot was one of the challenges of the upcoming vote, Hocking said, and there have been multiple community meetings to answer questions.

“People are starting to understand that information because we’ve really put it out there,” Hocking said. “I will say, we have a very outgoing facilities committee that’s been making a strong push.”

Todd Nelson, a parent and volunteer assistant coach for the district, is a member of that committee.

“If we pass it, it will be because, hopefully, we got the word out, and people saw the benefits and the needs,” Nelson said. “The tax is an unfortunate side effect, but hopefully the tax is manageable for enough people.”

Nelson said the facilities projects would help keep the Lisbon school system adequate for its students.

“The science lab was built in 1964, before we landed on the moon,” he said. “Does that seem realistic to you? Does that seem competitive to you?”

The auditorium, which is now a converted gym, was built in 1939 and has several electric, lighting and acoustical deficiencies, he added.

The district does not have a track, and students run in the streets or school hallways.

While he’s cautiously optimistic about the measures’ chances, Nelson said the committee understands passing three measures is a lofty goal.

“Passing one bond is hard,” he said. “Passing three is very difficult.”

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As of early Friday, 278 early ballots had been returned in the election, according to the Linn County Auditor’s Office. Nine absentee ballots still had not been returned.

Of the 278 ballots, 250 were cast at the Lisbon satellite voting site at the school, 235 W. School St.

Some 2,301 voters are registered in the district, which includes areas of Linn, Cedar, Johnson and Jones counties.

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