Vermillion school bond issue election is April 13

Vermillion school bond issue election is April 13 Tim Obr addressed an audience of approximately 20 people Monday night who showed up at the Vermillion High School library to learn about the proposed $5.6 million expansion of the high school and the school board's plans to fund the project, in part, with $3.5 million of general obligation bonds. The bond issue needs the approval of over 60 percent of people who vote April 13. by David Lias Tim Obr rose from the table where he was sitting in the Vermillion School Library Monday night to state why he believes the Vermillion School District needs to expand its high school facilities.

Obr, an employee of The University of South Dakota, a 16-year resident of Vermillion, and a parent of a child who attends public school in Vermillion, said he became involved in the high school building proposal because of the advantages he received while attending school in Yankton.

�I received a lot of advantages in academics (at Yankton),� he said, �and when I came over here and saw the library, I was astonished that we have such a small library with the academic presence that we have coming out of the school and the SAT schools that are just outstanding.

�That�s why I truly became involved with this,� he added. �A lot of people have asked because I�m big into athletics, but it came down to my looking into academics for my daughter.�

Public turnout for Monday�s meeting was small. Only about 20 people, including two school board members and several school district employees, were in attendance at this second informational meeting held this year about the school proposal.

The school district�s plans were, in general, positively received.

A minority of the audience members, however, made it clear that they were concerned about the effects of the proposal on property taxpayers.

They also questioned whether some features of the proposal, such as a new gymnasium and and a new auditorium, is a sign that extra-curricular activities are beginning to overwhelm academics at Vermillion High School.

The new auditorium is being proposed to build excellence in the arts programs offered by the school district. The proposed facility would seat 750 persons, and would feature a fully-equipped performing stage and orchestra pit.

A proposed new commons/dining facility would seat 300 people, complete with a new kitchen. The commons is immediately adjacent to the auditorium. The space will be available for use by school and community organizations.

The proposed project also includes the construction of a new auxiliary gymnasium that would include one full-length basketball court and two cross-courts with bleachers for 300 spectators. The design includes a dedicated first floor practice area for wrestling with an upper level for gymnastics. New locker rooms would serve both the existing gym and the new facilities.

The proposal also calls for the library to expand into the existing commons dining area and be completely renovated. Adequate space for class work and expansion of the collection would be assured. An area for computer research would be included.

John Fremstad noted that the library will remain in the center of the school building, with no exterior walls or windows. He asked if skylights had been included in the library�s design so that natural light could be utilized.

Superintendent Bob Mayer said skylights were not included in the design. He added that the interior windows that exist in the present commons will probably need to be replaced.

�Should this project pass, we�ll probably have to replace those to make that a fire-rated wall, too,� Mayer said. �The commons almost doubles the space of the library, and we�re talking about additional renovation, such as adding carpet.�

Joe Grause asked about many more teachers and janitors would be needed if the proposal would be approved.

Mayer replied that no additional teachers would be needed, but an additional janitor would need to be hired. Utility costs would also increase in the range of 75 cents to $1 per square foot.

Mayer also explained that the district is funded by the $6.2 million general fund, which accounts for about 77 percent of the total budget, the $900,000 special education fund, which makes up about 12 percent of the total school budget and the capital outlay fund.

The general fund and the special education have their own set mill levies, Mayer said. �We can not change those. We can not raise the taxes in those two funds.�

Mayer added that the school district has a maximum levy of $3 per $1,000 of assessed taxable property valuation. This fund is used to buy such items as furniture, computers, books and make building repairs.

�We can also borrow money in that fund, called the issuing of capital outlay certificates,� Mayer said. �You pay that back then, by the money that comes in to your capital outlay fund.�

Mayer said the school district�s capital outlay budget is approximately $760,000.

If the bond issue passes, �we would use a portion of that $760,000 to make the debt payment to pay back the $2.1 million we would be borrowing,� he said.

Mayer said as property values in the school district increase, and the number of property owners increase, that helps bring the tax levy down.

�If we build new homes in this community, and add more businesses and add value to the district by that means, then the levy comes down for everybody to share,� Mayer said.

Polling information

When: From 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. April 13.

Where: At the National Guard Armory, 603 Princeton Street, Vermillion.

Voters from the southeast, central, northeast, northwest and rural wards in the Vermillion School District should go to the armory to vote in not only the bond election, but also decide a two-person school board race.

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