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Voters Will Decide On a $65 Million Project for Schools

Ames School Facilities Petition Committee Gathered 986 Signatures In Support of Putting Elementary School Plan to a Vote.

The Ames Community School Board voted 6-1 Monday to approve a resolution requesting that a $65 million bond referendum be brought to a vote Sept. 13.

Board members Mary Jurenka, John Hascall, Dan Woodin, David Putz, Paul Sodders and Francis Todey, voted yes and Bill Talbot voted no.

Talbot didn't explain his vote during the meeting, but Woodin said he would vote in favor of putting the question on the ballot even though he favored a five school plan.

“I'm torn on how to vote,” Woodin said adding that he was in favor of bringing the issue to a vote mainly so that the district could move forward.

The referendum will ask voters if they are in favor of allowing the district to issue $65 million in bonds backed by property taxes in order to build three new schools, reopen Roosevelt Elementary and renovate two additional elementary schools.

The plan calls for new elementary schools on district property at 24th Street and Miller Avenue, replacing  and  elementary schools. A third elementary school would be built at the current  school site, replacing it as well.  and  elementary schools would be repaired. And Roosevelt Elementary, the oldest school in the bunch, would be reopened giving the district a total of six elementary schools.

Hascall said he was originally in the five school camp and said the important thing is that the board has a good plan and moves forward.

Jurenka said it was important to let people know about the condition of the buildings because she said people often tell her that the school buildings look fine from the outside.

According to a facilities report the school buildings are in need of various repairs and ground water leaks through the lower levels of most schools.

Superintendent Tim Taylor said Meeker Elementary built in 1951 was collapsing in on itself.

The board's vote came after a facilities petition committee presented the board with 986 signatures gathered through many conversations in hot summer weather, said David Brenner, of the school facilities petition committee. The committee needed 595 signatures to place the measure on the ballot.

The board held off on discussions about selling district property including the former middle school site on State Street. The board plans to discuss it at a work session in the future.

“Apparently we are going to approve the bond language tonight,” Talbot said. “I just think this is the wrong time.”

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