Voters head to the polls for Vermillion school bond issue

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The Vermillion School District says the bond issued received 902 “yes” votes and 304 “no” votes.

VERMILLION, S.D. (KELO) — Voters in the Vermillion School District are deciding the fate of a $26 million dollar bond issue Tuesday.

If at least 60 percent of voters say yes, the district would build a new elementary school and make some improvements to the middle school.

There’s no wasted space at Austin Elementary School if you ask Principal Kim Johnson.

In fact, the library doubles as the music room, thanks to some creative scheduling.

“We use every single nook and cranny,” Austin Elementary Principal Kim Johnson said.

Superintendent Damon Alvey says the district has grown by more than 140 students over the past five years and needs more room.

If the bond passes, the district’s two elementary schools would be consolidated into one new school.

“Our teachers and our principals and support staff work and do amazing things, but we’d like to get them in a newer environment. Quite honestly, there’s old plumbing, old wiring, old roofs in our facilities. We’d like to get them in a 21st-century learning environment. We feel the impacts to student education would just be greatly enhanced,” Vermillion School District Superintendent Damon Alvey said.

The new school would be located at Barstow Park. That’s adjacent to the middle school. The district already owns the land.

While one voter who lives close to the proposed site isn’t opposed to adding a new school, she is concerned about decreased park space and crowding on her street in what she calls a small neighborhood.

“We’ve got enough with the middle school and it works very well, but I think to add another one and to lose all that beauty would be a mistake,” a Vermillion resident said.

Johnson says the new location would add outdoor learning opportunities and much more.

“Having the flexibility to be more innovative in how we use our space would certainly benefit our students,” Johnson said.

The superintendent says the 30 year-bond would increase property taxes by about $160 a year for a $100,000 dollar home.

Voting runs until 7:00 Tuesday night at the National Guard Armory in Vermillion.

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