Decorah School District voters will head to the polls Tuesday to decide whether or not to pass a $10.4 million bond issue.

Following a two-year study by the Decorah Shareholders group, a committee appointed by the Decorah School District to study facility needs throughout the District, a citizens committee recently petitioned the School Board to hold the referendum.

The recommendation

The Shareholders committee has recommended a number of renovations to the high school, including: updating and replacing the heating, cooling, electrical and communication systems, repairing the roof, creating a "safe room" for security and safety during severe weather, restructuring the cafeteria area, and building a new gymnasium and expanding the high school fitness room.

The bond issue would cover approximately half of the funding stream for a $19.5 million project, which would include renovations and additions to the high school and some updating of John Cline School. The other $9.1 million would come from property taxes, the physical plant and equipment levy (PPEL) and statewide penny sales tax receipts.

The bond referendum requires a 60 percent majority.

Second issue

A second ballot question will ask voters to renew the voter-approved PPEL, which was first passed by Decorah voters in 2003.

While the current $1.34 per $1,000 of taxable value PPEL doesn't expire until 2013, the District is asking voters for renewal to ensure it will be able to repay its debt and borrow more for upcoming projects.

The PPEL generates more than $600,000 per year for the Decorah District.

The PPEL renewal requires a simple majority (50 percent plus one) to pass.

A group effort

Decorah School Board President Ramona Nelson commended the Shareholders for all its work and encouraged voters to head to the polls Tuesday.

"The proposal in front of the voters has been prepared with the combined efforts of the Shareholders, school staff and School Board," said Nelson.

"The need to maintain our facilities is clear. Voter approval of the two funding streams will support the major needs of the high school and some projects at John Cline."

Nelson said while the District is sensitive to asking for additional taxpayer support in challenging economic conditions, "The timing gives the School District the opportunity to borrow at low interest rates and compete for favorable construction bids. We're grateful for the previous community support and encourage voter participation Tuesday, Sept. 14."

Voting will take place at the high school from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday.

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