Education

Voters approve Linn-Mar schools' $55 million bond

About 66 percent voted in favor of bond for two new school buildings

(The Gazette file photo)
(The Gazette file photo)

MARION — Voters approved a $55 million bond for the Linn-Mar Community School District on Tuesday.

About 66 percent voted in favor of the bond, according to unofficial results from the Linn County Auditor’s Office. It needed 60 percent to pass.

Almost 8,250 people voted in the special school election, a turnout rate of about 29 percent.

In a statement, Linn-Mar Superintendent Shannon Bisgard thanked voters for their support.

“It’s been a great experience to see our community come together to support our schools and children,” Bisgard said. “The fact is we are a vibrant and growing school district and we need to keep pace with our growth by providing safe and supportive classrooms so our students can reach their academic potential.”

The bond measure is expected to increase Linn-Mar’s property levy rate to about $18.02 per $1,000 of taxable assessed value, a $69 annual increase for the owner of a $200,000 home, according to the district.

The bond will be used to build two new schools in the district, for grades five and six. District officials hope the additional buildings will alleviate crowding at all of its elementary and middle schools.

Enrollment at Linn-Mar has recently grown by about 150 students every year, a 2 to 3 percent increase, district spokesman Matthew May told The Gazette.

Linn-Mar officials plan to build the new schools on either side of the district, one near Echo Hill Elementary and one on land the district owns near the intersection of 35th Avenue and 44th Street in Marion.

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The district will begin the design and construction process for the new schools soon, according to the district’s Tuesday statement, and provide regular construction updates.

Each will have capacity for about 800 students and a proposed opening date in fall 2020. The new schools will not disrupt which elementary schools feed into which middle schools.

The successful bond campaign saw turnout Tuesday that outpaced Linn-Mar’s last bond election in September 2017, when the district asked voters to approve an $80 million bond. The measure was defeated with only 53 percent approval; turnout was 21.4 percent.

At a polling site at Marion Christian Church, a steady stream of people were arriving to vote in the special school election Tuesday evening.

Brooke Paulsen waited until later in the day to vote because her young children, Connor, 7, and Harper, 4, wanted to go with her. Paulsen said she voted in favor of the bond because she knows Linn-Mar schools are overcapacity — Connor’s classroom last year, she said, was a converted teachers’ lounge.

A retired Linn-Mar teacher, Marilyn Mark, also said she voted in favor.

“I don’t always vote in support of spending,” said Mark, who retired in 2013. “Linn-Mar schools are excellent and it’s a growing area, and we do need to invest in our young people.”

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

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