Voters say yes to school!
By a margin of 485 to 135, voters in the Gettysburg School District elected to pass a bond resolution and move forward with building a new school.
The bond issue vote was for a maximum $6.9 million to build a new high school and gymnasium.
In order for the bond issue to pass, it required a 60 percent yes vote from the people voting.
There were 620 of the roughly 1,100 registered voters in the Gettysburg School District who came to the polls for this election.
There were 78 percent who voted yes.
HKG Architects from Aberdeen have worked with the local school board for the past several years to come up with a plan that is both cost effective and highly efficient to provide the best possible school option for the district. On Thursday, April 4 the final in a series of community meetings was held to give voters one last chance to ask questions and tour the existing high school building.
The tour gave a first hand look at some of the issues the 91-year-old school building is facing, from deterioration in the ceiling to major cracks throughout the structure. Life safety issues were pointed out, showing how the building is lacking in areas of emergency exits, handicapped accessibility, electrical and plumbing upgrades, and security.
The new high school, which is designed to be on one level, will feature 13 classrooms, each 900 square feet, with technology upgrades.
The school classroom area will be completed by August of 2014. The new gym will be completed by August of 2015. The students will not need to be relocated during the construction.
The new school will be large enough to accommodate growth, not only with upcoming class size estimates but also if students from surrounding areas chose to attend GHS. During the past few years the enrollment for the school has increased from 220 to a current number of 265.
The current financial climate, with historically low interest rates, makes it important to do the project now. The low fixed rate would be locked in for the 30 year life of the bond.
The tax levy example is 2.62 per $1,000 of valuation, which is described as the worse case scenario. As valuation goes up, taxes should go down.
The levy of the bond does not discriminate between ag or commercial property. The levy is equal across the board, so unlike an opt out, it stays the same straight across. The $1,000 valuation of ag land would be taxed the same as $1,000 of owner occupied or commercial property.
“Thank you to all the voters who turned out in spite of the weather to support our school’s future. Thanks also for the trust you have shown in us during this process. The board looks forward to the next exciting steps in our building project. I encourage all people to stay involved and ask questions as we journey together toward a promising future for GHS. Here’s to another 90 years!” said Kay Schmidt, President of the Gettysburg School Board.
Toby Morris from Dougherty and Company in Pierre, which is the company that does financing for schools and issues the bond, will work closely with the school board to lock in the best possible rate for the bond.
Dean Markse of HKG Architects and his team will meet further with the school board and staff to fine tune the plans and prepare for the bid letting.