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Voters defeat $20M in school bond issues in Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn district

Voters defeat $20M in school bond issues in Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn district

Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn Elementary School

The main entrance to the Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn Elementary School is shown Oct. 30 in Marcus, Iowa.

MARCUS, Iowa -- Voters said no Tuesday to two Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn school improvement projects that would have funded a combined $20 million to modernize facilities, including one defeated by a very thin margin.

Cherokee County residents cast 550 votes for and 377 against a $14.2 million bond issue to finance a new elementary school and improve the existing high school as the largest piece.

The second ballot measure of $5.6 million called for building a new daycare facility next to the elementary building and adding a new gymnasium, and the vote outcome for that was 462 to 456 in Cherokee County.

While both received more affirmative than "no" votes, under state law, the measures required a 60 percent or greater "super majority" for approval. The larger cost piece, the $14.2 million option, fell just short, getting 59.3 percent approval, according to Cherokee County Auditor's Office results. The combined vote total with all votes was 570 to 395, for 59.1 percent.

The $5.6 million proposal received 50.4 percent affirmative votes in Cherokee County, and 49.9 percent when all votes (477 to 479) were combined.

Depending on what voters might have approved, the range of the property tax increases per $1,000 of assessed property value would be from $2.70 to $4.05.

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Superintendent Dan Barkel said school officials are seeking to update schools in Marcus that were designed for the Baby Boomer generation, and built in 1954 and 1962.

Though MMC entered into a whole grade sharing agreement with the neighboring Remsen-Union district in the summer of 2018, the ballot measures will not go before Remsen-Union voters. That means any potential tax increase would only be borne by MMC property owners.

Under the sharing agreement, the combined school, known as MMCRU, operates the high school in Marcus, the middle school in Remsen and elementary schools in both towns.

If approved, construction would have begun in summer 2020. The construction would take approximately two years, with the elementary school for prekindergarten through fourth grade completed by the 2021-2022 school year.

Editor's Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly reversed the vote results of the two bond issue proposals.

Cherokee County election results for municipal, school district offices
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