LYNDON—Voting is now open for residents of USD 421 to decide the future of USD 421 Lyndon school facilities. Those living in the district cast votes in favor of or against the schools’ proposed bond issue from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Lyndon Community Center.
The USD 421 school board held three meetings to share information with the public concerning the building project and bond election. The last informational meeting concluded April 23.
“We’ve been looking at this process for a long time,” said Bob Knoernschild, board president. “A few years back, the roof blew off the gymnasium, which prompted another issue, what do we do with students in an emergency?”
Knoernschild also spoke of safety as it relates to intruders.
“Most doors are locked, but that doesn’t mean you can not get through them. They’re not really guarded or protected. We also looked into getting door locks for all the teachers in all the rooms and realized it was going to be a pretty expensive project.”
“The board asked me to identify what would bring the building up to code and routine maintenance,” said Dave Emig, project architect, Emig Construction. “The cost to renovate the building was upwards of about $800,000.”
“We started looking at the bigger picture,” said Knoernschild.
Emig explained the proposed concept would deal with the district as a whole and not just one building. After 12 to 14 concepts in all, he presented the final concept as a result from site council and focus committee plans, in addition to feedback from the school board, principals and teachers in the district.
“Our priorities are to replace aging buildings, increase safety and security, create an efficient use of space and take advantage of the existing school finance and construction environment,” said Emig.
The proposed building project includes the construction of new classrooms, a laboratory, greenhouse, kitchen, cafeteria and commons area as well as three monolithic domes to be used for elementary and middle school classrooms, an all school library and art room, music classroom, locker rooms, gymnasium and multi-purpose space with a stage and storm shelter.
A large portion of the meeting was devoted to talk about legislative issues with the bond issue. Brian Spencer, superintendent, gave several outlooks for mill rates in given situations following the passing of the bond proposal or not.
Projected cost increases to homeowners include an annual rate of $230 or a monthly increase of $19.17 for an appraised home valued at $100,000. For a commercial business of the same value, the annual increase is projected at $500 or $41.67 monthly.
Recent school finance legislation has removed the funding of new facilities weighting after June 30 of the current year. If the bond passes for Lyndon, they would be the last school in the state to receive that funding.
“That’s approximately $750,000 from the state in new facilities weighting,” said Spencer. “This is something we can take advantage of now. If we try this a year from now, it won’t be there.”
Spencer also wished to make clarifications about how the state pays back their part of the bond issue.
“We’re going to borrow money and the state’s paying it back at the same time,” said Spencer. “We’re paying 55 percent and they’re paying 45 percent.”
That $12.3 million is the proposed amount of the bond, at a proposed increase for taxpayers of 20 mills.
“The mill rate will not be included on the ballot,” said Spencer. “The important number is the $12,380,000.”
“It’s a lot of money,” said Spencer. “We know that. We think our kids are worth it.”
The last day to request an advance ballot for the election was May 2. The last day to vote early at the county courthouse was May 5.