The majority of voters in the approved a $55 million bond referendum Tuesday that would replace and update Ames five elementary schools.
About 69 percent of voters said yes, according to unofficial returns reported by the Story County Auditor's Office. The final tally including absentee votes was 2,987 yes to 1,312 no. The measure required a majority of 60 percent plus 1 to pass.
The school district intends to replace and elementary schools on site and rebuild at Miller Avenue. The district will also expand and renovate both and elementary schools.
Superintendent Tim Taylor said in a prepared statement, “It was a good day for the children of the District, but now the real work can begin.”
Chief Financial Officer Karen Shimp said the district's to-do list includes constructing three new elementary schools and overhauling two existing ones in the span of about four years.
Up first is the replacement of Edwards School on the district's Miller Avenue property. Shimp said she will be working with Piper Jaffray, the District’s accounting firm, to prepare the first $10 million bond issue by June 30.
In the meantime, the school board and staff will schedule additional work sessions to make decisions about architect selection, the building design process, community input and selling unused District property, a release from Kathy Hanson, the district's community and school relations, said.
The bond is not expected to increase the district's property tax asking at least in the first year because the district's other levies are decreasing by about the same amount. The value of the district's property tax base has increased by almost 3 percent overall.
People encouraging a yes vote said this plan was necessary to bring Ames schools into the 21st century .
Voters rejected a six-school plan in September. Some have said that plan was better because it would keep community schools smaller and better serve students of low socioeconomic status. Almost at Mitchell, Meeker and Edwards qualify for free and reduced lunches.
The schools have not yet been designed but plans call for building Mitchell as a two section school and Fellows as a four section school. The rest would all become three section schools, meaning three sections or classrooms for each grade.
Read more on the bond issue here.