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Central Lee Schools Target April 2019 for 2nd Bond Vote

The Central Lee School District’s proposal to borrow millions of dollars to upgrade its campus near Donnellson narrowly failed at the ballot box a few months ago. It appears residents will be asked to reconsider the plan in April 2019.

The nearly $10 million bond issue received almost 57% support at the polls, but Iowa law requires 60% approval. It would have funded a series of projects identified by a facility improvement committee.

Superintendent Andy Crozier said the Central Lee School Board held a workshop this summer to discuss the bond issue. He said board members know the infrastructure needs are not going away so they support another attempt to pass a bond referendum.

“I think this is the first time I have said this publicly,” said Crozier. “The reason why we want to wait until April (2019) is we think that the sales tax extension will pass next year. We feel if it passes, that might give us leverage to move this forward and get this done.”

Crozier is referring to Iowa’s statewide one-cent local option sales tax, which is set to expire in about ten years. The money collected is used to fund education infrastructure and technology.

Crozier said if the Iowa Legislature pushes back the expiration date by a couple decades, the district would have more sales tax revenue to spend on the infrastructure needs. He said that could reduce the amount of money the district would have to collect from property taxes to fund the projects.

Crozier said he does not yet know how much the district MIGHT have to borrow next year to complete the work identified by the facilities committee.

The district did take care of a few smaller projects this summer: a new turn lane at the entrance/exit to campus, new lockers, and additional parking spots. But the large-scale projects do remain: secure entrances to both buildings, build a new high school gymnasium, and build new classroom space.

And Crozier said he’s worried that the cost of construction and materials will increase, meaning the district would have to ask for more money or scale back the proposed projects.

Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.