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Fort Madison & Central Lee Bond Votes Fail Despite Receiving Majority Support

A majority of voters in the Central Lee and Fort Madison School Districts supported plans during Tuesday’s special elections to borrow millions of dollars for new construction or facility improvements. But the majorities were not large enough to claim victory.

Iowa law requires 60% approval to pass a bond issue. Central Lee received 56.4% support (701-542) while Fort Madison received 59.2% support (1747-1202).

This was Central Lee’s first attempt to pass this particular bond issue. The district wanted to borrow $9.8-million to fund the construction of new secure building entrances, the addition of new classrooms and a gymnasium, the renovation of other classrooms and improvements to parking.

Superintendent Andy Crozier told Tri States Public Radio Tuesday night that supporters are disappointed in the results.

“This process isn’t easy, but there is quite a bit of value in it,” said Crozier. “This means the concepts presented did not resonate with a supermajority of the public. Our next steps will be to evaluate the areas of weakness in the plan and determine if we come back to the community in six months or not for another bond referendum.”

“I am concerned interest rates will be higher in six months and our available funding pool may be smaller. We discussed this in the community forum as a reason we were going to the polls in April and not waiting for the fall. We will continue to maintain the status quo of our buildings.”

Crozier also thanked the volunteers who helped lead the effort to pass the bond. He previously said that with the bond not passing, the district will not move ahead with plans to borrow about $3.5-million to fund additional improvements.

For the Fort Madison School District, the results were déjà vu all over again. This was the third time the bond referendum has failed in the past two years.

The district initially wanted to borrow $27-million to build a new elementary school that would replace Richardson and Lincoln Elementaries, which are each 100+ years old,  and to construct new high school baseball and softball diamonds. That $27-million figure has jumped to about $30-million due to inflation and other market conditions.

Fort Madison School Superintendent Erin Slater could not be reached for comment following the vote.

Timeline for Fort Madison Bond Votes

  • Dec.6, 2016 - Bond fails 48.6% / 51.4% (1470 votes cast)
  • June 27, 2017 - Bond fails 55.8% / 44.2% (2740 votes cast)
  • April 3, 2018 - Bond Fails 59.2% / 40.8% (2949 votes cast)
Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.