K-12 Education

$80 million Linn-Mar School District bond referendum fails to get a passing vote

The entrance of Indian Creek Elementary School, seen in this photo taken on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014, in Marion, Iowa. (Justin Wan/The Gazette)
The entrance of Indian Creek Elementary School, seen in this photo taken on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014, in Marion, Iowa. (Justin Wan/The Gazette)

MARION — Voters in the Linn-Mar Community School District said no to an $80 million bond during Tuesday’s school election.

About 53 percent of voters approved the measure, which would have funded facility improvements in the growing school district, and the measure fell short of its needed 60 percent supermajority.

“We’re obviously disappointed to learn the outcome of the bond referendum,” Linn-Mar spokesman Matthew May said late Tuesday. “We felt the plan was the right plan and the right time for it, the goal being to provide new and improved class spaces for our students and address those growth issues we’ve experienced over the years in our schools.”

At Noelridge Christian Church, one of the district’s three polling places, a steady stream of Linn-Mar districts were voting during the early afternoon.

“It’s been much busier than we expected,” said Julie Gibson, the site’s chairwoman. “That makes for a good day — it goes fast.”

Many voters at Noelridge church, in northeast Cedar Rapids near Robins, said the size of the Linn-Mar district’s school bond motivated them to cast a ballot.

The funds would have paid for the construction of a new elementary school, renovations for the district’s three existing elementary schools, two new intermediate school buildings to house fifth- and sixth-graders and an addition to Excelsior Middle School.


“It would be good for the areas that are expanding,” said Lindsey Brown, 32, who said she voted yes on the bond and has a son who attends Echo Hill Elementary. “They’re pretty cramped at the elementary schools.”

The bond would have incrementally raised the Linn-Mar district’s property tax rate to about $19 per $1,000 of taxable assessed value, which motivated some residents to vote no.

“Linn-Mar has really high taxes, and I don’t want any more,” said Kim Laraway, 61.

Moving forward, May said the district will re-evaluate its facilities and grade restructuring plan. In the interim, as elementary schools in the district reach capacity, he said it’s likely class sizes at that level will increase.

“Basically, we’ll regroup,” May said. “In education, you never lose. You either win, or you learn.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8330; molly.duffy@thegazette.com


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