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Questions raised about school bond

DENVER — Concerned east Lincoln residents addressed questions to a panel regarding the school bond referendum at the East Lincoln Betterment Association meeting Tuesday night.
Although ELBA and the East Lincoln Political Action Committee vote “yes” for the $47 million bond issue coming up May 4, the group still had some unanswered questions.
Dr. Walter Hart, associate superintendent for personnel, Steve Zickefoose, assistant superintendent for business, and County Commissioner Tom Anderson were on the panel.
“The school bond issue is of utmost importance since we are all taxpayers,” said Greg Coffey, president of ELBA. He invited the panel to help residents understand the need for the bond issue as well as the management of the funds.
Many issues were addressed including maintenance, which is included in the school bond.
The $47 million bond has $6 million set aside for maintenance.
East Lincoln resident Gurtha Strand was concerned of the possibility of cost overruns.
Many of the maintenance issues that would be addressed are projects such as new heating and cooling systems for the schools, new carpets and repainting.
Zickefoose confirmed that the $6 million would probably not cover all the maintenance needs but it is a start.
“Out of the $6 million, we could spend more,” he said. “But that money will take care of the big stuff today and then we can pursue to add money later.”
He said maintenance is always an ongoing issue.
Anderson agreed with Zickefoose.
“Repair and renovations are huge issues for all school districts,” he said. “Schools wear out.”
Andy Strand, another east Lincoln resident, had concerns about the size of the new facilities which will be constructed.
He is against mobile units which are located on many school grounds today.
Currently there are 72 mobile units in Lincoln County.
St. James Elementary School can accommodate 700 students. The new elementary school which will be built in western Lincoln County if the bond is approved will also be made this size.
“We don’t want to build gigantic schools,” Zickefoose said. “We don’t want to lose that family environment.”
Zickefoose said building the 700-student elementary school would allow for the potential for growth.
If the bond is approved May 4:
· A 700-student elementary school in western Lincoln County will be built opening fall 2006
· A 975-student middle school in central Lincoln County will be built opening fall 2006
· An expansion of East, Lincolnton, and West Lincoln high schools will be included to add on new gymnasiums, health classrooms etc.
· An East Lincoln Middle School sewer project will connect the school to the Lincoln County water and sewer service
· Renovations and repairs will be made to existing schools by Amy Wadsworth

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