By fall of 2016, a new middle school will be opening its doors to students on the east side of the district.

With 2,944 to 1,224 votes, 70 percent of residents voted in favor of a $69.5 million bond referendum on Tuesday’s ballot, which includes the construction of a new middle school building.

When the votes were in, teachers, principals, district administrators and School Board members gathered at the Intergovernmental Center broke out into applause Tuesday night. Supt. Sheri Allen couldn’t help but raise her hands in the air and express her enthusiasm: “Yes!”

“Thank you, everyone. How lucky are our kids?” she said.

Allen said the bond passing comes at the end of a lot of hard work by numerous people, both in the district and in the community. She said she’s grateful to everyone who had a part in it, and she’s grateful to the voters for passing the bond in all 10 precincts.

“It’s a vote yes for our students,” Allen said.

The middle school facility, to be located somewhere along Highway 22, will cost $50.1 million. Other projects will include an $8.4 million addition to Dakota Meadows Middle School, making it a grades 6-8 school; a $2 million expansion of West High School’s cafeteria; and a $5.6 million East Junior/High School renovation, which would turn the facility solely into a high school (with the junior high students attending the new middle school).

The bond also includes a $1.8 million Garfield Elementary School renovation that includes turning the school from a sixth-grade facility to accommodate grades K-6. (Bridges Elementary will move into Garfield to allow that school to expand, and district programs would be moved into Bridges’ current building, which is leased. Students who would now attend Garfield will go to Dakota Meadows.)

Other costs include $600,000 for construction management and $950,000 for bond issuance costs.

The tax hike for the average $150,000 homestead will be $94 per year, or $7.83 per month. For a $225,000 homestead, the tax increase will be $154 per year, or $12.83 per month.

For commercial property valued at $500,000, the tax increase will be $685 per year. For $1 million commercial properties, the tax increase will be $1,649 per year.

And for agricultural land, the hike will be $274 per year for a $630,000 property, or $452 per year for a $1 million property.

Now that the bond has been passed, detailed planning will begin, including determining the exact location of the new middle school. Allen said the school will house about 1,100 students, and about 50 acres will be needed.

The construction timeline for the projects will begin with the West cafeteria expansion in the summer of 2014. The middle school and Dakota Meadows addition will be completed August 2016.

And because the Garfield and East renovations can’t take place until students are moved out of the buildings into the new facilities, those projects won’t begin until the summer/fall of 2016.

The projects are a result of the district’s increasing enrollment, having grown 10 percent in 10 years and with an expected growth of an additional 10 percent in five years (8,351 students by 2017-18).

School Board member Kristi Schuck, who was re-elected Tuesday night, said she was thrilled to see the referendum pass and is excited to see the construction projects progress throughout her second term.

Jodi Sapp, also re-elected Tuesday night for her fourth term, agreed.

“There are no words. I thought we had a good chance, but you never know,” she said.

For more area school election results, turn to page B1.

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