Staples-Motley area residents rejected a bond referendum Tuesday, April 13. The referendum would have invested $64.4 million in renovations and expansions to the middle/high school and elementary school.

The referendum was proposed by the Staples-Motley School Board to address aging infrastructure at the schools, modernize classroom and technical education spaces and improve accessibility and building security, according to a Staples-Motley news release.

Unofficial final vote totals stood at 910 in favor of approval, and 1,555 against.

“While we are disappointed in the result of this election, we respect the decision made by voters and thank everyone who took this opportunity to make their voice heard,” district Superintendent Shane Tappe said in the release. “Our district will continue to provide our students with a high quality education, and we will continue to explore other ways to improve our facilities.”

Under the referendum plan, the elementary school would have transitioned to accommodate grades pre-K-6, with the high school serving grades 7-12. Renovations to both buildings would have addressed deferred maintenance needs, updated classrooms and improved building accessibility and safety.

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“The challenges with our school buildings are not going away and will need to be addressed,” Bryan Winkels, chair of the Staples-Motley School Board, said in the release. “The school board prepared for this scenario by approving “Plan B.” We will continue to work with our community as we move forward with that plan.”

The board-approved $14.5 million piecemeal “Plan B” will address a portion of the most significant infrastructure needs, such as air quality, heating and roofing updates. It will not include educational improvements inside the classroom or all of the district's deferred maintenance needs, according to the release.

Owners of residential homes in the district worth a median value of $125,000 will see an estimated $12.67 per month increase under the alternative plan. Limited funding sources to make these improvements means taxpayer investment completes approximately 20% of the needs identified in district building assessments, for about half the tax impact, as the release stated.

After “Plan B” is implemented, the school board will evaluate the next steps in improving the school's facilities, moving on to “Plan C” and beyond.