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SIOUX CENTER, Iowa -- Voters in the Sioux Center Community School District on Tuesday approved a $24.9 million bond referendum that would ease overcrowding in the district's three schools in addition to financing construction of a new high school.

According to unofficial results from the Sioux County Auditor's Office, 1,312 votes (76.37 percent) were cast to approve to bond referendum while 404 votes (23.63%) were cast against it.

There needed to be a 60 percent affirmative vote to pass the measure. 

Unlike other Iowa school districts, superintendent Gary McEldowney said Sioux Center student population has been steadily increasing.

For a number of years, the schools have been adding 50 new students per year. If this growth continued, Sioux Center would go from a school district of 1,300 students to a school district of 1,800 students in 10 years.

That would mean overcrowding will only increase over time. 

The district had been reaching out to parents, business owners, community members, educators and students for possible solutions.

Presently, Sioux Center's elementary school has 572 transitional kindergarten through fourth-grade students, its middle school has 401 fifth-through-eighth-grade students, and the high school has 393 ninth-through-12th-grade students.

If Sioux Center could reconfigure its existing facilities while building a new high school, McEldowney said the district could alleviate capacity issues while allowing future enrollment in all grades. 

By 2028, the elementary school would be able to accommodate 438 transitional kindergarten-through-second-graders, the current middle school would accommodate 438 third-through-fifth-graders, while the current high school would accommodate 438 sixth-through-eighth-graders. 

The proposed high school would be able to accommodate 584 ninth-through-12th-graders in 2028.

Since the $24.9 million bond referendum passed, the debt service tax levy will increase by a maximum of 37 cents per $1,000 of taxation valuation. This comes out to a $40 per year cost impact for the average household and 52 cents per year cost impact per average acreage.

"The school district isn't merely addressing a want," McEldowney said a few days prior to the vote. "We're addressing a need that will benefit the district in the long term." 

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