Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
Tuesday is Election Day for a bond referendum that will determine if the Washington Community School District’s middle school plans proceed.
If successful, the ballot measure will green light district plans to build a new wing onto the high school and repurpose the building’s east wing as a middle school, a relocation from the near century-old building currently used by sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders.
Superintendent Willie Stone stressed that the $25 million bond issue would not raise property taxes of any type, instead maintaining the status quo $2.70 tax rate.
Stone said that tax incentive led the district to pursue a high school add-on rather than constructing a new middle school altogether.
“If we did the new building, there would be a tax increase of $1.35 (per thousand of assessed valuation), and that affects people differently,” Stone said. “Not terrible for homeowners, but as you get into agriculture, it was a really significant increase.”
While the district and community have grown fond of the old building, Stone said the new model offered myriad benefits.
“When we upgrade the facility, we would have environmental control of the educational environment for all our students districtwide,” he said. “In addition, we’ll have air handling and circulation that we currently don’t have in either the middle school building or the old part of the high school.”
As a bond issue, a minimum 60% of voters need to approve the referendum for it to pass. If it fails, Stone said the district has some time to seek another solution for its aging middle school, though it’s unclear what alternative the school board would select.
Polls will be open to residents of the school district from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday, at the Washington County Courthouse basement and Brighton Town Hall.