Voters in Iowa’s Alburnett School District on Tuesday rejected an $11.6 million bond measure to renovate and repair district buildings.
Measure B, which would have authorized the school to sell the bonds, garnered 54.7 percent of the vote, but such local bond measures require a 60 percent "yes" vote to pass, according to Linn County’s website.
Its companion measure, Measure C, which would have authorized a property levy to raise the money needed to pay off the bond, fared even less well, garnering only 51.8 percent of the vote.
The proposal would have increased property assessments in the school district by $1.89 per $1,000 of taxable valuation – as opposed to a home’s market value. As an example, a home with an assessed value of $100,000, after the application of homestead credits and other reductions, would have seen its annual tax bill rise by $117 if the bond measure had passed.
But Measure C would have allowed the district to authorize a levy of up to $4.05 per $1,000 of assessed value to ensure funding is available to pay off its existing debt service.
The renovations were necessary because spaces and classrooms are currently operating at maximum capacity, according to the school district.
The proposal would have funded improvements at both elementary and secondary schools. Among the designated projects were the relocation of agriculture and technology areas to a 7,800-square-foot wing and the construction of a new 500-seat auditorium and music room. In addition, 10 classrooms were to be added to school facilities, plus expanded parking and upgrades to enhance safety, health and security.
“While we have much to be proud of with past facility updates, many spaces in our school aren’t conducive to today’s learning and teaching,” a post on the district website said. “Rows of desks, overhead projectors, chalk boards and books no longer describe today’s learning environments. In the digital era, the educational landscape is rapidly transforming.”
The district’s superintendent, Dani Trimble, told The Gazette in Cedar Rapids that the district could go to voters with another bond request next March.
The vote in Arburnett coincided with the passage of a bond measure this week to fund a new high school in Cedar Falls near the University of Northern Iowa. Sixty-seven percent of voters there cast “Yes” votes for a $70 million bond measure.