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Midkota voters reject $6.4 million school bond

The Midkota Public School Board is taking a week to look at why voters of the consolidated school district rejected a $6.4 million bond referendum, said Les Dale, superintendent and high school principal.

The Midkota Public School Board is taking a week to look at why voters of the consolidated school district rejected a $6.4 million bond referendum, said Les Dale, superintendent and high school principal.

The 20-year bond for a $7.4 million project to improve two schools received just 40 percent approval on Tuesday; it required 60 percent to pass. The School Board will discuss why the referendum failed at its Monday meeting when it declares the election results official, he said.

"There is so much to look at right now at one time," Dale said. "The board said let's step back for a week or so and kind of gauge where this is at and how to move forward."

The school district is largely agricultural and things are tough right now, Dale said. It is clear that crop and cattle prices are a big concern, he said.

Unofficial results show 359 school district residents voted against the referendum and 242 voted for it. Of the 601 votes cast on Tuesday, 60 percent approval was required for the bond to pass, or 360 votes.

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Results in the three school district precincts were 56 percent approval in Grace City with 56 yes votes and 44 no, 54 percent in Glenfield-Sutton-McHenry with 144 voting for the referendum and 125 voting against it, and 18 percent in Binford with 42 yes votes and 190 no.

"We didn't get 60 percent in any one of them," Dale said.

Ron Halverson, owner of the Binford Cafe, said no one can blame the farmers but the community should think about the kids. Midkota voters funded improvements to the Binford Elementary School in recent years, and he said he couldn't see why the same support wasn't shown for the high school in Glenfield.

"I don't know the reasons (why the referendum failed)," he said. "I was for it personally."

The referendum would have added 32.09 additional mills to the existing 77-mill levy for the school district. The estimated residential tax increase would have been $124.97 per $100,000 of property value and an additional agricultural tax of $1.24 per acre of farmland.

Midkota is a large school district, Dale said, serving residents in Binford and Sutton in Griggs County, Glenfield, McHenry and Grace City in Foster County, Kensal in Stutsman County and rural portions of Eddy and Nelson counties.

The School Board was not in full agreement on the referendum, so the first step is to have an agreement on some plan to move forward, he said. At that time there will be a community meeting, he said.

"We will spend some time with the architect and construction management and get their take on things too," Dale said.

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The School Board decided to hold the referendum after recommendations were made for repairs to the high school building in Glenfield, he said. Some School Board members believed that the cost to repair the 1914 building would not allow for updates and it was preferable to replace it, along with making more repairs to the Binford school built in 1908.

"The thought process was 'do you want to stick a larger amount money into making repairs or to just put it toward a building project?'" Dale said. "Now the picture is what do we do and where to go from here?"

Midkota High School has approximately 75 students in grades 7-12, Dale said. The Midkota Elementary School enrollment is in the mid-90s with students in K-6, he said.

A demographic study showed the school district's enrollment will continue to grow, he said.

"We are looking at another dozen children for kindergarten next year," Dale said. "This number will help the high school later."

Calls to School Board members for comment were not returned on Wednesday.

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