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Bond Issue To Address Space, Security Issues

March 1, 2018
by Dan Voigt , Emmetsburg News

GRAETTINGER - Patrons of the Graettinger-Terril Community School District are being asked to consider the future and the current needs of the district with a $9.7 million bond issue. The bond issue will be brought to the district's voters on Tuesday, April 3 for a decision.

The bond issue was originally posed to the district's voters in September of 2017, and was narrowly defeated by just 22 votes, receiving 58.3 percent approval. Iowa law requires a supermajority of votes for approval, or 60 percent.

"There are a multitude of reasons we're bringing this bond issue to our patrons again,"?noted GT Superintendent Andy Woiwood. "The main reason is that we have identified a need to increase and expand our educational spaces, as well as to create new classroom and laboratory spaces, make our facilities fully compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and for security concerns for our students and staff."

Article Photos

PROPOSED?ADDITION - A proposed $9.7 million bond issue for the Graettinger-Terril Community School District would allow for an addition of educational classrooom and laboratory spaces at the Graettinger building, as well as addressing building security issues as well as a competition gym with regulation sized court. At the Terril buiding, an addition would provide a security update for the building and improvements. Voters in the Graettinger-Terril district will go to the polls on Tuesday, April 3, to vote on the question. -- submitted photo

According to Woiwood, the district began considering needs for educational spaces roughly three years earlier, with the creation of a citizens' committee. The group toured the Elementary facility in Terril and the Middle School/High School in Graettinger.

"We started the process by asking our teachers to list what they liked and disliked about their classroom spaces,"?Woiwood explained. "Then the committee toured both buildings. We learned that as they started their tours, they had higher expectations for the Graettinger building, but ended up realizing there were considerably more needs there, and they went into Terril thinking there would be more need there as an older building, but were pleasantly surprised with the facility."

Woiwood continued, "over the years, our school boards and our custodial staffs have done very good jobs at keeping both of these facilities in very good shape, but at this point in time, space and improvements are what we looking for."

In Terril, the entire building exterior was tuckpointed two years ago, and a project to replace wood siding on portions of the building with metal is underway.

Under the Bond Issue plan, an addition to the existing building in Terril would provide a new, secure entrance area with administrative offices on the east side of the building. The addition would allow for remodeling of existing restroom facilities adjacent to the gymnasium, along with an ADA?compliant ramp at the new entrance point.

At Graettinger, an existing building housing Industrial Technology and Vocational Agriculture classrooms and shop area would be removed and replaced with a new classroom area for science and vocational agriculture, along with a laboratory space that could be utilized by both classrooms. Additionally, new lab space for industrial technology, including a classroom and space for woods and metals labs would be included.

Also part of the proposed addition would be a new administrative office area with main security entrance on the east side of the building. A new student commons area would be included to tie the new building to the existing school building.

The largest part of the proposal in Graettinger would be the construction of a new competition gymnasium with regulation sized court and new locker room facilities for varsity athletics.

Remodeling of some existing spaces in the building would also take place to compliment the new construction.

The existing greenhouse would be moved a short distance closer to the existing school structure, and new parking areas to the east and west of the addition would be included in the project.

The need for the gymnasium was explained by Kyle Norris, a former GT Board member and Citizens' Committee member.

"We have two gyms in the district, and neither have a regulation sized court,"?Norris said. "In researching, I?learned that we are the only district in the state without a regulation-sized court, which prevents us from ever hosting any type of tournament games. To add a new gym with seating for 1,000 would put us in the middle of our conference in terms of facilities and crowd capacity."

Several myths being circulated about the bond issue were disputed by Norris, including a statement that the district was not in a financial position to support such a project.

"GT's unspent authorized budget per pupil ranks 60th out of 336 school districts in the state and our solvency ratio has fallen within the state's recommendation every year since our consolidation," Norris said. "And, our total property tax has been below the state average every year since our consolidation."

A concern over the size of the bond was addressed.

"Neighboring districts have bonded for $68.2 million in construction projects since Graettinger and Terril began grade sharing in 2006,"?Norris noted. "GT borrowed $500,000 in a USDA?zero-interest loan in 2012 to build the wrestling/weight room."

It was also pointed out that the Terril building will continue to house the elementary school, hosts 100 percent of the elementary activities and will continue to do so.

"There will be no re-alignment of any classes,"?Norris said. "Both the Terril and Graettinger buildings are utilizing every available classroom space. And, the Terril building educates more students now than it did in 2005-2006.

"There are those who say we don't need a new gym,"?Norris said. "Terril's gym is the largest in the district, but it's the fourth smallest in the state, based on floor size and seating."

The $9.7 million bond would ask for a $2.70 per thousand valuation tax rate, which translates to $5.63 a month for a homeowner in Terril and $6.72 a mont for a homeowner in Graettinger.

The polls for the bond issue will be open from 7:00 am until 8:00 pm at the Public Library in Graettinger and at the Community Center in Terril. Only voters in the Graettinger-Terril Community School District are eligible to cast votes in the bond election.

For more information on the bond issue, go to:

www.gtschools.l12.ia.us

and click on the Bond Issue button.

 
 
 

 

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