District 818 voters approve building bond
Verndale School Board Member Bill Blaha feels seeing was believing for many District 818 voters leading up to the May 30 building bond vote.
Extra space requirements for a growing student population prompted the need for a building bond. As the 2012-2013 school year ended in Verndale, Superintendent Paul Brownlow reported the K-12 enrollment was 486 with more students preparing to enroll for the 2013-2014 school year. Approximately half of the district’s students are open-enrolled from other districts.
A vote on the building bond in August, 2012, less than three months after the board approved putting the question on a ballot, failed 300-252.
“When I visited with eligible voters and their concerns the most impactful thing for people was when they toured the school with students in the building,” Blaha said. “I had people tell me ‘wow, I didn’t know it was that tight.’”
District 818 voters approved a $4.95 million building bond measure May 30 by a vote of 340-252.
With the school district contributing $845,000, the total cost of the project will be $5.795 million.
Work on the addition is expected to begin in September. Completion is expected in September, 2014.
The 29,700-square foot Verndale school building addition will house two science classrooms, a 10,565-square foot gymnasium, boys and girls’ locker rooms, administrative offices and storage space.
The addition will also mean changes to the interior of the present school building. The elementary and secondary portions of the school will be completely separate according to Brownlow. The cafeteria will be remodeled and enlarged. Special education facilities will be upgraded.
“I think it will offer a great opportunity for our students,” Brownlow said.
Brownlow credited the voters of the district for passage of the building bond.
“The greatest thing is that we had a wonderful turnout at the polls,” Brownlow said. “It was a great representation of the community.”
Blaha is looking forward to aly 15 school board workshop that will address future issues facing the district. Since the popularity of school with students and families from other districts is reflected in the large open enrollment, Blaha feels the District 818 board has a duty to know where the limits for the district are in the future.
“How do we manage our student population so this does not happen again too soon?” Blaha asked.