By Katie Dahlstrom Herald Staff Writer
The Clinton Herald
---- — GOOSE LAKE — The Northeast Community School District will sell $7.5 million in bonds to fund a new gym and science wing at the high school, voters decided during a special referendum vote on Tuesday.
According the unofficial results from the Clinton County Auditor’s office, more than 77 percent of voters cast ballots in favor of allowing the district to sell $7.5 million in bonds to construct a new science wing holding four new science rooms, 1,500- to 1,800- capacity gymnasium capable of dividing into three courts, a new regulation baseball field, parking areas, new concession area and restrooms, a new community fitness area, and an addition to and remodeling of the weight room.
In order to pass, the bond needed to receive the support of a super majority, more than 60 percent of voters. Of the 597 votes cast in the bond issue, 462 were cast in favor of the bond.
Northeast Superintendent Jim Cox said now that an overwhelming majority of voters have voiced their support of the project, he is ready to start.
“We’re absolutely delighted. This reflects the passion and vision of the district, residents and their focus to provide state-of-the-art educational institutions and opportunities to the students, their kids and their grandkids,” Cox said.
Northeast residents also voted in favor of adding 34 cents per $1,000 valuation to the physical plant equipment levy (PPEL). The PPEL issue needed a simple majority to pass and 78 percent of voters cast ballots in support of increasing the PPEL to 67 cents per $1,000 assessed valuation.
PPEL funds are voted on every 10 years and can only be used for building repair, construction, buses and grounds improvements, for example. Northeast will use the funds to hire a custodian to care for the 40,000-square-foot addition.
With both issues being approved by voters, the district will lower its tax rate by 12 cents per $1,000 assessed valuation. Financial consultants who have been working with the district have said the tax levy decrease could end up being more than 25 cents.
The new addition will be adjacent to the high school gym where the baseball field currently sits, pushing the baseball field to a space west of the elementary school.
Plans presented to members of the Northeast community last week called for the baseball diamond project to begin as soon as June 2013 and be complete by the 2014 season. Construction of the science wing is expected to begin in September 2013 and be complete by the end of 2014.
“We’re excited for the kids and the opportunities we can provide,” Cox said.
During another special referendum vote on Tuesday, members of the Central Clinton Community School District also voted in support of keeping their district’s PPEL at 67 cents per $1,000 assessed valuation.