BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – The Fort Madison Community School District will get about $10 million over the next 10 years to help with security, maintenance, and facility upgrades as district voters approved the measure Tuesday night.
District voters approved the measure 734-339, or a 68.4% approval. The district only needed 50% plus 1 vote to institute the new levy. The approval comes after multiple consecutive failures to pass a bond to build a new PreK-3rd grade elementary school
The issue on the ballot Tuesday was a voted Physical Plant and Equipment levy bump to $1.34/$1,000. The district had been collecting the levy at just .33/$1,000.
District officials said the move will generate about $1 million annually for upgrades to three of the district four schools, excluding the Fort Madison Middle School. Priorities include upgrading the security at Richardson and Lincoln Elementary school and completing the next phase of the Fort Madison High School air conditioning project.
Other projects could be determined by the district’s current facilities assessment being completed by Estes Group.
School Board President Tim Wondra said it was nice to see something finally get passed.
“It’s nice to finally get a yes on something – some path they want to move forward with,” Wondra said. “Now we can start to improve the buildings and make them safer. It’s small steps, but positive steps in the right direction.”
Wondra said he was surprised at the high approval percentage and said he had still heard negative comments from the public.
“I figured it would be closer. 68% that’s great. I don’t know if it was a matter of people finally just saying yes we need to do something or just trying to fix the school versus building a new school.”
Wondra also wondered if the crumbling building downtown didn’t open people’s eyes to the conditions of the elementaries.
Superintendent Dr. Erin Slater said the approval will let the district begin to address critical safety and security issues.
“On behalf of the staff and students of the Fort Madison Community School District, I wish to extend my thanks to the voters for a positive result tonight!,” Slater wrote in an email to the Pen City Current.
“The successfully voted Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL) allows the district to begin to address the physical demands of our current buildings. The safety and security of our students has always been and continues to be a top priority. The additional funds now allow us to continue to address these needs without needing to make cuts in other areas. The voted PPEL will enable us to more adequately plan and execute needs in our district and we are thankful that the community supports our efforts. Thank you to the voters of the Fort Madison Community School District!