Mid-Prairie bond issue approvedSteering committee let voters decide for themselves the merits of the vote
WELLMAN—The $10.6 million bond issue passed in the Mid-Prairie Community School District yesterday.
According to the unofficial results from the Washington County Auditor’s Office, 1,336 people voted in the Mid-Prairie Community School District. From that total, 987 votes approved the bond issue and 349 voters voted no.
In the Mid-Prairie Community School District there are 5,238 registered voters, Washington County Auditor Dan Widmer said.
“Twenty-six percent of the registered voters voted yesterday,” Widmer said. “Seventy-four percent of those voters approved the bond issue.”
For the bond issue to pass, 60 percent of the voters needed to vote yes, Widmer said.
In the Kalona Precinct 681 people voted, and 518 of those votes approved the bond issue; In the Wellman Precinct 338 people voted, and 243 of those votes approved the bond issue; and in the West Chester Precinct 88 people voted altogether, and 64 of those votes were for the bond vote, according to the unofficial results from the Washington County Auditor’s Office.
Mid-Prairie Community School District Superintendent Mark Schneider said he wasn’t surprised the bond vote was approved.
“I was cautiously optimistic going into the bond issue that it would pass,” Schneider said. “You’re never going to have a bond pass 100 percent. Obviously, we’re very pleased that the bond did pass.”
One thing that surprised Schneider was the number of people who voted.
“To be honest I was surprised by the percentage of people who voted,” he said. “Our last bond vote was in 1996 and it only passed by two votes.”
Schneider was pleased at how the school district approached voters about the bond. There wasn’t an outside group lobbying for the bond.
“When the bond was decided to be brought to a vote in the district, a steering committee was set up,” Schneider said. “The steering committee made the decision that the best thing to do was to educate people and let them decide for themselves.”
An informational packet about the bond was sent out to the district’s post office holders in West Chester, Kalona, and Wellman, Schneider said.
“I think educating our voters about the bond is what helped it to pass,” Schneider said.
Mid-Prairie School Board President Jim Hussey said he was also pleased with the results of the vote. He also gives credit to the voters for their decision yesterday.
“I don’t think there were any projects on the list that were really glamorous or sexy,” Hussey said. “The voters looked at that list and made their decision from that, which the vote reflected.”
Hussey was also happy with the number of voters who voted.
“I’ve been on the ballot for school board elections and only 300 people voted,” Hussey said. “This was an important issue and I’m glad the 1,336 voters came out and voted.”
Now that the bond has passed, the school board will begin working on a timeline for the projects to begin.
“At this point in time we’re not certain when construction will begin,” Schneider said. “We will have to work with our bond attorneys first to begin the selling process of the bonds and will have to begin working with our architects to get the blueprints drawn. Some projects, like installing the air conditioning at Washington Township, could begin this summer.”
Other projects, such as the classroom additions at Mid-Prairie Middle School, Wellman Elementary School, and at Mid-Prairie High School probably won’t have construction begin until next fall, Schneider said.
The biggest project, installing geothermal heating and cooling systems, at Mid-Prairie Middle School probably won’t begin until next spring, Schneider said.
“Passing this bond will give our students more opportunities,” Schneider said. “There will be more space available for students in special education when we add those classrooms at Wellman Elementary School. The alternative high school will also get additional space, and at the high school a safety issue will be resolved. The main entrance and the offices will be moved down to the first floor so the office can see who is coming in and out of the school.”