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Residents of two southeast Iowa school districts will go to the polls on Tuesday, April 3rd to determine whether the districts should be allowed to borrow millions of dollars for new construction or facility upgrades.The Fort Madison School District says it needs $30-million to build a new elementary school and new high school baseball and softball fields.The Central Lee School District is seeking $9.8-million to help pay for enhanced security at its high school and K-8 building, a new high school gymnasium, several new classrooms and improved parking.Early voting is underway ahead of the April 3rd Elections.

Central Lee School District Seeking $9.8 Million Bond Issue

The Central Lee School District has a long list of facility improvements it wants to complete in the next few years. But it needs the support of its constituents to make that happen.

A special election is scheduled for Tuesday, April 3. The district is seeking permission to borrow $9.8 million, which would be repaid with property tax revenue. The referendum must receive 60% approval to pass.

Superintendent Andy Crozier said it’s been more than 20 years since the campus along Highway 61, southeast of Donnellson, saw any significant facility improvements. He said the time has come to change that.

The planned renovations/additions to Central Lee High School.

Crozier said a citizen’s committee was formed last year to identify all the infrastructure and facility needs facing the district and to develop a list of priorities. He said that final list of projects will cost about $13.3 million.

Crozier said in addition to the $9.8 million bond issue, the district would spend $200,000 from the money it receives from a statewide one-cent local option sales tax (LOST) and borrow $3.3 million against future LOST revenue. He said the district needs voter approval to do that, but he added the district will only seek that permission if the bond issue is approved.

Crozier said a top priority is safety and security. He said the plan calls for the administrative office in each building (High School and K-8) to be moved to the front entrance.

“What that allows us to do is create a double-door entrance,” said Crozier, “to where the front doors are unlocked and have an immediate entryway into the office for people to check in and then that second double-doors is locked. So they can go in the front doors, but they can’t get past the second doors into the rest of the building.”

The proposed renovations/additions to the Central Lee K-8 Building.

Crozier said that is not the case currently, in particular at the K-8 building.

“Right now, there is no way we could do that,” said Crozier. “If you walk into the K-8 now, you could go straight, left or right without anyone impeding you from the office. Now we trust our parents and our guests, and we are privileged to live in a great community, but you never know.”

Crozier said if the bond referendum passes on April 3, design work and engineering would get underway immediately to allow for ground to be broken in late 2018 or early 2019. He said the entire project should be completed within a couple years.

Crozier said the 20 year bond will likely cost the owner of a home with an assessed value of $100,000 an extra $98/year, or as he puts it, “A Casey’s pizza each month.”

The proposed projects include:

High School

  • New Office At Front Entrance
  • Expanded Commons Area
  • New Gymnasium
  • New Locker Rooms and Weight Room
  • New Fine Arts Classrooms
  • New Ag/FFA Classrooms
  • New Culinary Arts Classroom & Lab

K-8 Building

  • New Office At Front Entrance
  • New Early Childhood Center
  • Improved Parking
  • Improved Traffic Flow
Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.