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Linn-Mar sets bond vote for September 12
by Nancy Grindle Correspondent · June 15th, 2017

At its regular school board meeting, held Monday, June 12, Linn-Mar's Board of Directors was notified by Board Secretary Angie Morrison that a petition with 389 names on it had been received on Friday, June 9, 2017, asking for a vote to be taken regarding the issuance of general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $80 million to "construct, build, furnish and equip" two intermediate (fifth/sixth grade) buildings. Those funds also would be used to create a new elementary building.

In addition, the funds would be used to "remodel, renovate, improve, furnish and equip" the Bowman Woods, Indian Creek and Wilkins elementary buildings.

A third use would be to "remodel, renovate, improve, furnish and equip and to construct, build and furnish an addition" to Excelsior Middle School.

Improvement of sites was mentioned for all of the locations.

A roll call vote of members of the board was taken and passed unanimously. The bond vote will be held on September 12, 2017.

Members of the school board and administration have considered possible options for increased space over a long period of time, around 10 years. Most recently, a facilities committee was formed from a cross-section of staff, residents and other key stakeholders to study possible plans and make recommendations. In addition, professionals (RSP, OPN) were hired to assist with analyses for determining the best plan for the district to undertake. Associate Superintendent Shannon Bisgard conducted an enrollment study as well.

Out of those analyses, it was determined that rather than building a new high school at this time, the biggest need exists at the K-8 level, and it would make more sense concentrate on expansion at that level while using the Learning Resource Center to house some high school classes. Overall enrollment has increased by 2,200 students since 2006 and is estimated to continue to increase at a rapid rate over the next five years.

One of the new fifth/sixth grade buildings is to be built on land owned by the district near Echo Hill School. The other is slated to be placed on district-owned land near 35th Avenue (east of 35th Street) in Marion. Occupancy for both fifth/sixth buildings is anticipated for fall 2019.

The 35th Avenue site would also become the location of a new elementary building. This new elementary would replace an existing elementary school, but it has not yet been determined which one, nor has a construction date been finalized.

The district has used only SAVE and PPEL funds for more than a decade to make facility repairs and upgrades. However, the need is for new construction, which cannot be covered with SAVE and PPEL money. And the overall size of the expansion project is too large.

The last time bonds were issued was in 2006, more than 10 years ago, for the construction of Linn Grove and Echo Hill. Repayment when bonds are issued usually is spread over a 20-year period.

A two-page document regarding the bond vote (called "Vote 2017") is available on the Linn-Mar website. The facts noted here are some of the highlights of that document.

More information and flyers will be forthcoming. A facilities committee meeting was held Wednesday morning at 10 a.m. to go over the designs for the fifth/sixth grade buildings and to discuss materials which will go to residents and others who have a stake in the September bond vote.

The materials will include handouts, brochures, newsletters and mailers. District representatives will present information at school, community and other activities. It was even suggested to have block parties at senior housing facilities. Informational sessions will be offered at Linn-Mar and facts are already posted on the website. The district is using every possible method it can think of so voters can be well informed and knowledgeable as they decide how they will vote.

People are urged to review the information and cast a vote based on facts on September 12, 2017.
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