Community says no to school improvementsWinfield-Mt. Union bond issue fails
BY KARYN SPORY
Mt. Pleasant News
WINFIELD – The Winfield-Mt. Union Community School District won’t be seeing any major improvements to its building this year as the general obligation bond failed to excite voters yesterday.
This fall, the district announced plans to hold a special vote in order to levy funds to remodel and renovate the school building. After an exhaustive community engagement campaign, the district settled on a $9.5 million project, which would construct a new space for pre-K and kindergarten classrooms, upgrade the school’s practice gym and industrial classroom, and expand the cafeteria and commons area and band and music rooms. Superintendent Jeff Maeder said the district would only need to borrow roughly $7.3 million for the project, as $2.3 million would be used from the district’s revenue from the state’s penny sales tax. The $2.3 million was earmarked to pay for a new HVAC system regardless of how the vote came down on Tuesday.
However, the district came up short of the 60 percent approval to proceed with the project. Only 538 of the district’s 1,184 registered voters visited the polls Tuesday.
Voters were met with a two-question bond referendum. The first question asked for permission to levy up to $2.70 per $1,000 taxable valuation, the second would permit a tax levy not to exceed $4.05. Both questions needed to receive 60 percent approval or the project fails.
Neither question received the votes needed. Only 293 (54 percent) of people approved the first question, while 52 percent (281) approved the second measure.
“It was a let down,” said Maeder. “We knew this was a possibility, but we had a lot of participation and a lot of interest. We just didn’t get quite enough votes at this time.”
But that doesn’t mean the district is giving up. “We need to take some time and determine whether we want to try (another vote) in the allotted time,” said Maeder. “I don’t think we need to go back to the drawing board, this was a well planned out idea, we just need to continue to work with the community to see what they will support.”
As for the HVAC system, Maeder says that’s a decision that is going to have to come sooner rather than later. “We’re not going back on that, but we need to figure out a time table,” he said. Maeder said it didn’t make much sense to install a HVAC system if there might be a large construction project within the next year or so, but if the district is looking further down the pike to update the school, an HVAC system would be prioritized.
In the end, Maeder has hope. “We can still hold school, there’s no question about that with the current situation, but we still believe in some sort of improvements,” said Maeder. “We hope nobody gives up because we will continue to work to make our school great,” he said.