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Bond referendums in three Eastern Iowa school districts to be considered Tuesday
Solon, Benton and Iowa Valley propose bonds to fund school improvement projects
Residents in three Eastern Iowa school districts will have the opportunity to vote Tuesday on bond referendums to fund facility improvement projects.
Polls are open Tuesday, March 7, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. for residents in Solon, Benton and Iowa Valley school districts. A bond requires 60 percent majority vote to pass.
The Solon Community School District is proposing a $25.5 million bond that would fund improvements to Lakeview Elementary School, an expansion of its intermediate school and construction of a multipurpose indoor activity center.
If the bond is approved, it would not increase the tax rate, which is $16.28 per $1,000 of taxable valuation.
Projects at Lakeview Elementary would include updating the gym floor and replacing the bleachers, adding energy-efficient lighting, repainting classrooms, renovating the library for group collaboration and replacing worn playground equipment. This project could cost up to $7 million.
The bond also would fund an expansion to Solon Intermediate School, including adding seven general education classrooms, one special education classroom, one project-based learning room and a gym. The intermediate school was built in 2017 and designed for an additional wing to be added when necessary. The project is estimated to cost $9 to $10 million.
With the funds, the district would renovate a former truck stop — purchased by the district on the north edge of town — to become a transportation center with covered space for bus parking for $650,000. This would help extend the life of district-owned buses and reduce the amount of time drivers spend prepping buses in the winter months.
Another major proposal under the bond is building a multipurpose indoor activity facility with turf flooring that could be used for baseball, softball, soccer, golf, marching band, archery and other activities. The middle school property would be a potential site for the $4 million project.
Finally, the bond would provide funds to replace the 12-year-old turf field at Spartan Stadium for $800,000. The district has saved money from not having to water or mow the field for the last 12 years, according to school officials.
The district serves about 1,515 K-12 students across four school buildings.
The Benton Community School District is considering a $48.5 million school bond referendum to fund school improvement projects, including building a new elementary in Van Horne.
If the bond passes, the district also would move forward with a renovation and addition at Atkins Elementary School. Safety upgrades and improvements to the heating, cooling and electrical system at Benton middle and high school would also be made.
Land would need to be acquired to build an 80,000-square-foot elementary school, with the capacity for 600 to 700 prekindergarten to sixth-graders. The school could open as early as the 2026-27 school year.
This would be the first bond referendum in the Benton Community School District since 1979.
The bond issue would increase property taxes by $4.05 per $1,000 of taxable value. The district’s tax levy currently is $9.70, one of the lowest in the Grant Wood Area Education Agency region. If the bond passes, a homeowner with a home valued at $200,000 would see an increase to $418.81 in school property taxes a year, or $34.90 a month. A homeowner with a home valued at $100,000 would see an increase to $199.58 a year in school property taxes, or $16.63 a month.
The district serves about 1,700 K-12 students across eight communities — Atkins, Blairstown, Elberon, Keystone, Newhall, Norway, Van Horne and Watkins — and is growing by 1 to 2 percent every year, district officials said.
The Iowa Valley Community School District is considering a $10.6 million bond referendum to renovate, repair, remodel, improve, furnish the existing elementary and junior-senior high school buildings.
The bond issue would increase property taxes by $4.05 per thousand dollars of taxable value. The current tax rate is $11.97. If the bond passes, a homeowner with a home valued at $200,000 would see an increase to $437.94 in school property taxes a year, or $36.50 a month. A homeowner with a home valued at $100,000 would see an increase to $209.15 a year in school property taxes, or $17.43 a month.
The bond would enable the district to update and remodel its existing career and technical education shop and classroom at Iowa Valley Junior-Senior High School in Marengo. The improvements would meet current teaching standards and provide students an opportunity to learn career and technical skills.
It also would fund construction of a secure entryway at the junior-senior high school. Additionally, the school would get new ventilation and cooling systems, upgraded electrical systems and a new fire alarm system.
Roofing projects would be done at both Iowa Valley Elementary School and the junior-senior high school, and asbestos would be removed.
The district serves about 550 K-12 students in two schools.
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