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Voters to visit polls in five Northwest Iowa school districts

December 11, 2018 GMT

Voters in at least five Northwest Iowa school districts head to the polls Tuesday to determine four bond issues and one physical plant levy that seek to fund future brick-and-mortar efforts.

SERGEANT BLUFF-LUTON: Sergeant Bluff-Luton leads this busy day in terms of amount, as voters are asked to approve a $62-million bond issue to fuel construction, the bulk of which will realize the erection of a $49 million SB-L High School and an adjacent $7 million athletic complex. Recent measures in the district failed in 2016 and 2015.

District leaders have pointed out that SB-L buildings are at near capacity for enrollment, a figure that has jumped from 1,373 students in 2014-15 to 1,438 this academic year.

Information released on the bond measure details that the property tax levy for the school district is currently $10.36 per $100,000 of assessed valuation, lowest in a decade. That figure would rise to $14.17 per $100,000 valuation if the measure finds 60 percent approval among voters.

OABCIG: Voters in the communities of Odebolt, Arthur, Battle Creek and Ida Grove will determine a $15.9 million bond issue, a revised effort from a 2017 bond measure asking that failed to reach the 50-percent approval mark. A 60 percent “super majority” is needed for approval.

Proponents of the plan seek to build a 585-seat performance arts auditorium, while adding a new choir room, band room, locker-room area, wrestling room, and centralized district and high school office. Up to 17 classrooms in Ida Grove and Odebolt will also be renovated under this plan, under state law.

The annual property tax asking increased, if approved, for a home valued at $100,000 comes to $37.57.

STORM LAKE: Voters in the Storm Lake Community School District will be asked to decide the fate of a $29 million bond issue, one that will pave the way for construction of a new Early Childhood Education Center on the northwest section of the Buena Vista County seat.

Rising enrollment drives the issue in Storm Lake, where teachers and administrators face a space crunch in a district whose enrollment has surged by 22 percent in the past eight years. The current Storm Lake Elementary School, a 10-year-old building, is nearly 150 students over capacity.

As a short-term solution, the district has used portable classrooms and has converted shared spaces in both the elementary and middle school into classroom space.

If the bond issue passes in Storm Lake, district leaders are poised to address their capacity needs by constructing a new Early Childhood Center in two phases, the first of which would allow space for the kindergarten class. The second phase would offer room for Early Childhood programming.

Resource rooms, a gymnasium and a teacher planning center are also listed as features.

If passed, the Storm Lake measure would result in an estimated tax impact of $148.15 on every $100,000 of assessed property value per year.

RIVER VALLEY: River Valley Community School District patrons are asked Tuesday to again consider passing the Physical Plant and Equipment Levy, a measure that failed last fall. This effort requires one vote beyond the 50-percent threshold for passage.

The voter-approved levy generates funds a district can tap for infrastructure and equipment repairs, purchases and improvements.

The PPEL will allow the district to collect nearly $191,000 in additional revenue each year for the next decade. The measure will not raise local property tax rates beyond their 2018-19 levels.

Funds would be used for new buses with seat belts and to purchase a new camera security system and a door-lock control device to allow administrators to lock down buildings via mobile device.

SMART boards, new computers and science lab equipment to allow for hands-on lab experiences would also be added to the district’s tool box if the PPEL measure finds passage Tuesday.

AKRON-WESTFIELD: Akron-Westfield voters will decided for the third time how to proceed on building upgrades. The $6.8 million bond referendum would finance construction of a wing for industrial technology courses, a wellness and education site, substantial upgrading of the heating-and-cooling system, sciences classrooms and modernized security systems at the K-12 building in Akron.

The owner of a home with $100,000 assessed valuation would pay $139 more in property taxes per year under this plan.

Two similar bond issues at Akron-Westfield, in 2015 and 2016, failed to reach the 60-percent approval mark.