Tuesday, August 4, 2020
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Galena referendum seeks construction, safety

Voters in Galena Unit School District 120 in Illinois will decide on April 4 whether to approve a multimillion-dollar bond proposal that has already failed twice.

The board voted on January 17 in favor of putting the referendum on the ballot. The total project will cost more than $28 million and will include:

  • An addition on the existing middle school that will make the building suitable for students in prekindergarten through sixth grades
  • A brand new middle/high school that will serve students in seventh through 12th grades, to be built where the current primary school is located

Galena High School would be taken out of service if voters approve the bond issue, and the existing primary school would be deconstructed. Some people say the primary school has bad safety problems and shouldn’t be used in its current state.

“I am no longer okay with just alleviating the overcrowding. The primary school is not safe, and we need to do more,” The Spyglass quoted Tara Roddick, a school board member, as saying with tears flowing down her cheek.

The PK-12 unit district is serving 834 students this year, said Greg Herbst, the district’s superintendent, who presented the plan to the board at its meeting last week, according to the student newspaper’s social media reporter, Stephanie Hyde.

For the construction, the district would draw about $3 million from its existing capital fund and raise an additional $5.5 million over the 20 years of the bond from a one-cent increase in the sales tax. Some savings will also come from salary reworking, but the bulk of the funds would come from the bond issue, $15.8 million, bringing the total cost of the project to $28.6 million.

Voters rejected, by a 27-73 margin, a referendum in 2012 that asked for $24 million in bonds to pay for a $32.8 million project. Last year, the district asked for $15.7 million in bonds for a $28 million project similar to the one this year, and that failed by a 44-56 margin.

Other options, including completion of the project in phases and consolidating with East Dubuque Unit School District 119, were discussed briefly at the meeting. The board, however, ultimately voted 4-3 to put the referendum on the ballot.

So Mr Herbst and at least one student writer hope this small community comes together and critically evaluates the facts of the referendum without letting misinformation or yard signs avert their focus away from the safety and best education of students. “To put this in perspective, the current seniors at GHS were in the first grade” when the board first considered upgrading the school buildings in the district, Ms Hyde wrote.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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