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Voters pass school bonds for Solon, Iowa Valley to fund new facilities
Benton Community School District voters say ‘no’ to $48.5 million school bond referendum for projects, including new elementary school
Voters in Solon and Iowa Valley school districts said “yes” Tuesday to school bond referendums that will fund facility improvements.
A $25.5 million bond referendum in the Solon Community School District will fund improvements to Lakeview Elementary School, an expansion of its intermediate school and construction of a multipurpose indoor activity center.
In Iowa Valley, a $10.6 million bond referendum will provide funds to renovate, repair, remodel, improve and furnish the existing elementary and junior-senior high school buildings.
A bond requires 60 percent majority vote to pass.
Benton residents vote ‘no’
Benton Community School District residents voted “no” to a $48.5 million school bond referendum that would have funded school improvement projects, including building a new elementary school in Van Horne.
Residents opposed the bond for Benton schools Tuesday with 64 percent voting against the measure and 65 percent voting against a levy to pay the principal of the bond. This was the first bond to be proposed in the district in 44 years. The last bond referendum was approved in 1979 and took the school district 10 tries to get passed by voters, Benton Community Superintendent Pamela Ewell said.
The district can’t wait another 10 years to fund needed improvement projects in the district, Ewell said.
“People misunderstand the gravity of what we’re trying to do,” she said. “The issues we took forward on the referendum are still present and our vision for a quality education for our kids still is strong.”
Other possible funding options include sales tax dollars for urgent improvement needs at Atkins Elementary and the high school and middle school or another general obligation bond referendum in the fall. Ewell said sales tax dollars can’t fund the “large capital improvement” projects the district needs.
The school board will look at survey data regarding the bond referendum and make a decision on how to proceed, Ewell said.
The bond issue would have increased 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.
Solon approves $25.5 million bond
The bond referendum approved by Solon voters will 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 million to $10 million.
The referendum passed with 65 percent of residents voting in favor.
The tax rate, which is $16.28 per $1,000 of taxable valuation, will not increase.
Once the intermediate school expansion is complete, third-graders will be moved in to the intermediate school to join the fourth- and fifth-graders. This will make more room at Lakeview Elementary School for improvements to be made and for future students, Solon Superintendent Davis Eidahl said.
“We’re all excited and very appreciative of our community for seeing the need and supporting the need,” Eidahl said.
The district still is considering a location for a new multipurpose indoor activity facility, which was proposed under the bond referendum and could be completed within the next three years, Eidahl said. The facility will have turf flooring that can 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.
Iowa Valley approves $10.6 million bond
Voters in the Iowa Valley Community School District approved a $10.6 million bond referendum with 73 percent voting in favor of the measure.
The bond issue would increase property taxes by $4.05 per thousand dollars of taxable value. The current tax rate is $11.97. 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. It also would fund construction of a secure entryway at the junior-senior high school.
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