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School Board seeks ballot issue for project

Posted: Wednesday, Feb 13th, 2013

HURON — The Board of Huron Public School District 02-2 took formal steps toward a ballot question for the Tuesday, April 9, municipal election for issuance of negotiable general obligation bonds in the amount of $22.165 million for a time frame not to exceed 26 years.

The board unanimously supported the resolution, setting events in motion to raise the money for the purpose of financing the expansion and remodeling of certain elementary school buildings.

The school board earlier in the meeting approved the recommendation of the Facility Committee of Option D that was discussed at an earlier forum during this school year.

Option D would entail grades K-1 to be housed at Buchanan Elementary School, with grades 2 and 3 housed at Madison Elementary School, along with grades 4 and 5 at Washington Elementary School.

The election will take place at Huron Arena and polling hours will be from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Several of the board members had comments regarding the need for the buildings expansions and renovations.

Voters would need to pass the issue by 60 percent.

“I think its appropriate to say its a weighty decision whenever your making this kind of vote whenever you expect this kind of money — taxpayer dollars,” said board member David Wheeler. “This will effect an increase in property taxes. It won’t be very large, it will be basically asking the community to continue with the bond levy that we currently have in place for the middle school, allowing us to continue that so we can put the improvements and expansions the elementary schools need.”

Wheeler sees it as giving Huron students a strong foundation for future learning.

“I feel that this is an important project. Elementary schools are very important to the foundation of our district,” said Wheeler, “so we have kids who are getting the best learning they can at elementary levels and then that has a wave effect throughout the entire education [system].”

One key that Michele Bennett sees for success of the effort is educating the voters.

“I guess I would just encourage the public to become as informed as possible,” she said. “We have the committee that is working on the issue, there are articles in the paper. If they have questions they can contact board members or anyone else to find out information, because the more educated you are the better off.”

The committee which she mentioned is the Facility Committee that was established by the board to study the issue and lend its support.

Garret Bischoff, the chairman of the committee and a candidate for the upcoming school board election April 9, represented the committee Monday evening as it gave its recommendation for Option D.

“Our group is a committee of 20 community members interested in the school board’s pending decision on expansion of the elementary schools in our district.”

He went on to say the members who first met on Jan. 28 and then again on Feb. 4 are passionate about providing a solid education for Huron’s children.

Joining Bischoff to lead the meetings are vice chairman Chris Studer, treasurer Bush Fullerton and secretary Louis Van Poll.

The committee will be a political action committee to raise fund to help promote a 60 percent outcome in favor of the bonds in the election on April 9.

The committee will have its hands full with less than 60 days until the election.

Board President Tim Van Berkum addressed the urgency of the bond issue.

“This is something sorely needed at this time,” he said. “We all know how crowded our elementary buildings are getting.”

Both Bennett and Wheeler also addressed that it is time the district look at the needs of both expansion and renovation as far as the elementary schools go.

“Our elementary buildings have not been upgraded,” said Bennett. “It is time that they be upgraded as the high school has been and the middle school is relatively a new building.”

One thing Van Berkum noted was the need to have separate facilities for physical education and lunch, currently the two programs share the same space.”

Bennett noted not just more space but better buildings are needed as some programs are being held in inadequate spaces. “Right now they are in classroom closets, hallways that is not appropriate learning,” she said. “In addition to adding classroom space we also need to make our buildings state-of-the-art for our students.”

Wheeler echoed those remarks. “The added classroom space I think is what really pushed us forward for doing this now, but also the renovations making sure state-of-the-art buildings for a students with appropriate room sizes is critically important also.”

Another thing Wheeler found important is making the distinction that this is only way to fund this need. “This is the only way we can do this, there are no state funds that can be expended on this,” he said. “The only way to build buildings to improve buildings this substantially is to have a bond vote. So if we want to have good, well-designed, well-maintained buildings we have to go with this.”

The board also approved a District III improvement plan that was given during the report section of the meeting.

The board also got its first look at possible changes to Section C (general school administration) of the student handbook.

Another report that was given was a progress report on the ICU program at the middle school as well as an update from Superintendent Terry Nebelsick and a legislative report from Van Berkum.

More from this meeting will appear in stories later this week.

For the complete article see the 02-12-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 02-12-2013 paper.

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