PLUMSTED – Yesterday’s referendum results are close – so close that a handful of provisional ballots may make the difference.
Currently, there are 440 “no” votes and 435 “yes” votes. Superintendent Gerald North says there are about 17 provisional ballots that need to be factored. The Board of Elections might have those results as early as Friday.
The referendum was to provide upgrades to school safety, energy efficiency, and academics.
According to the district, on a home valued at $200,000, the owner would see a $136 reduction in property tax if the referendum passes.
“In today’s world, the health, safety and security of students and staff are as integral to the school environment as classrooms, academics and extra-curricular activities,” a statement from the district read. “The referendum will improve the safety and security of the learning environment for all students including those with special needs.”
According to district documents, the referendum would make the following improvements:
- Security improvements to all schools, including entranceways.
- Replace all lighting in the buildings with energy efficient LED systems that will save money in energy and save time for maintenance.
- Gerald H. Woehr Elementary School: Upgrades to the HVAC that “go beyond maintenance;” reconfigure parking lot to improve safety and the efficiency of dropping off and picking up students.
- New Egypt High School: security upgrades to the main entrance, emergency communication system, entrance doors, and surveillance cameras. They would also reconfigure the district’s central office into two rooms for students with multiple disabilities, small group instruction rooms, and rooms dedicated to speech, occupational, and physical therapy. This would allow the students to be taught in the building with peers (the office would be moved to the Primary School). Additionally, the school opened in 1995. The geo-thermal heating and cooling system has heat pumps that are past the average lifespan and need to be replaced. The media center and cafeteria would be expanded, allowing for multi-media technology and a digital media/video academy, small stage, and other rooms. The expanded cafeteria will allow the option to schedule a single lunch period for all, which would allow for more instructional time for students. A sound and lighting booth would be constructed in the back of the auditorium.
If approved, work could begin as soon as next summer, and would hopefully be completed in the summer of 2020.
The total project would cost $9,535,862. The district would receive 34 percent of the cost of the projects from the state, making the ultimate cost to residents $6,293,669.
However, state aid only comes with a passed referendum. The state would not fund these improvements without the passage of the vote. So, if the referendum is voted down, the district would still have to make those changes, without state aid.
Because interest rates are relatively low, and the district recently paid off some debt, district officials said it would be a perfect time to make these changes. It would spread the cost over 20 years, rather than have to pay a big bill, according to the district.