Education

Marion Independent's $31 million bond headed for ballot

Plan includes a new elementary, auditorium, sports complex, renovations

Marion Independent School District Superintendent Janelle Brouwer poses in the Marion Independent School District boardr
Marion Independent School District Superintendent Janelle Brouwer poses in the Marion Independent School District boardroom on May 29, 2019. (Molly Duffy/The Gazette) Janelle Brouwer Marion superintendent

MARION — A $31 million bond issue will be on the ballot March 2 to pay for new and updated facilities in the Marion Independent School District.

To put the bond issue on the ballot, the district had to gather 386 signatures on petitions, plus an additional 100 signatures to have a satellite voting site set up at Vernon Middle School ahead of the election.

During a school board meeting Thursday evening, Superintendent Janelle Brouwer thanked the community, school board members and the district’s Facilities Advisory Committee, saying they went “above and beyond circulating a petition during a really difficult time with COVID-19.”

The petitions turned in Thursday had 585 signatures.

The facilities plan includes a new auditorium and outdoor activities complex at Marion High School, repairs to the high school, a new elementary school and renovation of Francis Marion Intermediate School.

It would take four to five years to complete the projects, Brouwer said.

In Iowa, bond issues require approval by a supermajority — 60 percent — of those voting.

The district will fund the plan with the 1 percent sales taxes already in place and with property taxes.

The plan, its authors say, is property-tax neutral, meaning the bonds can be repaid without raising the district’s property tax rate. The district has paid down its debt, so that debt tax levy could be reduced; with the bonds, it would remain the same.

The facilities plan includes:

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

• A new $7.7 million auditorium at the high school, 675 S. 15th St., that would increase seating from 300 to 800.

• Conversion of the current auditorium into classrooms.

• Moving the outdoor activities and sports complex, damaged in the Aug. 10 derecho, from Thomas Park to the high school — a $5.7 million project.

• Building a new elementary school, a $15.3 million project, on the Thomas Park Field to replace Starry Elementary, 700 S. 15th St.

• Renovate Starry Elementary for high school classrooms.

• Add a secure entrance and new classrooms to Francis Marion Intermediate School, 2301 Third Ave., plus other renovations.

More than 2,000 students attend classes in the Marion Independent district, which has two elementary schools, an intermediate school, a middle school and a high school.

Comments: (319) 398-8411; grace.king@thegazette.com

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.