SIOUX CITY | Voters in the Odebolt-Arthur and Battle Creek-Ida Grove School districts on Tuesday rejected a proposal to raise taxes by more than $16 million for building upgrades.
Less than half the voters supported a bond issue of $16.4 million to improve the high school in Ida Grove and the middle school in Odebolt.
Under Iowa law, school referendums calling for an increase in property taxes must receive a "supermajority" of at least 60 percent to pass. The final tally was 433 yes votes and 490 no votes.
Superintendent Terry Kenealy said he was disappointed in the bond issue defeat, but added that he understands it. Kenealy said the school modernization needs remain.
"The proposal that we asked the voters to consider wasn't acceptable to them, so we need to give that some thought before we begin moving forward," Kenealy said.
A committee for two years looked into needed improvements, and finalized plans to extend the building lives by 40 to 50 years.
One key piece was for a performance arts auditorium on the east side of the high school in Ida Grove, at an estimated cost of $3.8 million. Another $6.5 million would have modernized the gymnasium, updated classrooms and improved accessibility.
For the school in Odebolt, an estimated $5.9 million was planned to upgrade classrooms, repair the gym ceiling and address accessibility issues by adding an elevator and other pieces.
The referendum would have raised property taxes by $2.70 per $1,000 of assessed property valuation. That's the highest increase permitted for a one-measure bond issue vote in Iowa.
Voters from the Odebolt-Arthur and Battle Creek-Ida Grove districts, which had a whole-grade sharing agreement for eight years, in June decided to fully consolidate into one district. The districts will officially become a consolidated district on July 1, 2018.