Dec 17, 2008 Ami Olson Uncategorized
Jordan-Elbridge district residents had their final say Thursday on the capital project when they passed Proposition 1, but turned down Propositions 2 and 3 of the project.
Voters expressed their support for major repairs and upgrades to the four district school buildings, but could not justify the improvements to athletic facilities included in the second and third propositions. The estimated cost of the approved plan is $21.9 million.
“We are ecstatic, we are very pleased with the turn out,” Assistant Superintendent of Business and Finance Bill Hamilton said Thursday night after the final tallies were in.
Thursday evening the polls were busy, with the line of waiting voters snaking out into the hallway at times.
Polling place volunteer and district resident Elsie Gorham said the turnout for the capital project vote was one of the biggest she had ever seen. She noted there were many signs posted throughout the community urging people to vote, but she had not noticed any negative signs.
Though the public information sessions and facilities tours received relatively low attendance, last week’s vote drew more than a thousand residents to the polls.
Among them was Brandie Ashby, a district employee and resident who said the capital project vote was the first public vote she had ever participated in.
Her main concern was the storm water retention basin.
“That’s bad, and I know it’s bad,” Ashby said of the basin. “It doesn’t do its job.”
For some younger voters, the controversial all-weather field caught their attention.
Stephanie Starratt, 18, a J-E graduate, was back at school last week to vote. Her main reason for voting, she said, was to support the plan for the all-weather field, which did not ultimately pass.
Sixteen-year-old Stephanie Pieklik, a junior at J-E, was not able to vote but had formed opinions on the issue.
“I’d vote yes,” she said of the project. She said she understood the new field would be expensive, but that it would cost more in the future. Pieklik expressed a division between how her peers viewed the project and how the older community members perceived it:
“Kids say ‘what are we going to get,’ their parents think, ‘what are we going to lose.'”
The proposition passed by voters will first improve the existing waste water treatment plant and storm water retention basin, improvements slated to begin in Spring 2009. The district announced Friday in a release the State Education Department agreed to expedite the review of the district’s plans for the two projects in light of urgency surrounding them.
The rest of the plan would begin to be implemented Spring 2010, and are still subject to SED review. Included in the remainder of the voter-approved Proposition 1 are technology and security upgrades and sorely needed maintenance. All four district buildings would receive renovations, with the high school receiving technology and fitness additions, consolidated administrative offices, science lab and art room renovations and upgrades in the auditorium and kitchen, along with other renovations.
Though voters failed propositions 2 and 3 of the plan, the district hopes the closeness of the votes can translate into approval of the remaining two propositions with additional education of the public.
“The field work propositions was not scheduled to start until at least 2012. The closeness of the votes for the two propositions involving field work tells us that the vision is very real, and that many people understand the economic development potential these investments would create for the community,” Superintendent of Schools Marilyn Dominick said in a release last week. “Clearly, we have more educating to do so that everyone better understands the value proposition.”
The final votes