By John Sharp
The Center School District voted 5-2 December 17 to place a no tax increase $48 million bond issue to fund district capital improvements on the April 2, 2019, ballot which will need to be approved by four-sevenths (57.1 percent) of those voting for passage.
The ballot language for the bond issue notes funds from the bonds will be used for renovating, improving, constructing, furnishing and equipping school facilities, including but not limited to:
- Roof replacement and other facility repairs and long-term maintenance improvements
- Installing energy conservation improvements
- Improving safety through secure entrances and security cameras
- Constructing, improving and adjusting facilities to allow for expanded early childhood programs, enrollment increases, family engagement and 21st Century learning.
“The Center School District is in need of some overdue upgrades and repairs to our facilities,” said Board president Beverly Cunningham. “In addition to these upgrades, we are also looking to make improvements that provide the safest environment possible for our children.”
The two Board members who voted against putting the bond issue on the ballot are Marcie Calvin and Paul Kramschuster.
The last bond election in the district was in 2009 to address playground upgrades and other facility needs, said School Superintendent Dr. Sharon Nibbelink.
“Due to some significant increases in enrollment and the changing needs of education, we need more space and more options to meet the needs of our learners,” Nibbelink said.
She explained since 2013 enrollment has gone up at all four elementary schools in the district – 18 percent at Boone Elementary, 7 percent at Center, 20 percent at Indian Creek and 13 percent at Red Bridge. Middle school enrollment went up 12 percent, she said, but high school enrollment only went up 3 percent.
Nibbelink said Indian Creek Elementary will either need to be remodeled and enlarged due to overcrowding or replaced with a larger building at its current site. She said Red Bridge Elementary also needs additional space since two classes there are now housed in a trailer.
She also noted that the district’s Early Childhood Center adjoining Boone Elementary is too small to accommodate the district’s plans to convert the district’s pre-kindergarten program to all-day and to expand it to serve all four-year-olds. She said pre-kindergarten services will either have to be split up among different sites or another larger facility will have to be built or acquired.
Another major concern, she said, is improving the security of the district’s schools.
“We have listened to our community and hear that safety and security is paramount. We want to create secure entrances to our schools so that we can better protect our kids,” she added.
Nibbelink said it’s time for this investment in the district’s schools to help its students achieve academic success and to allow homeowners to protect their property values by sustaining the high quality schools she said the district is known for.
The specific projects to be funded by the bonds will be discussed at a meeting of the Center Board of Education at 7 p.m. Monday, January 7, in the Board Room at Boone Elementary.