Wednesday, November 11, 2009
DALLAS -- Voters approved Dallas School District's $8.6 million maintenance bond by a large margin during the Nov. 3 vote-by-mail election.
One year after voters rejected a bond to build a new high school by a 2-to-1 margin, the repair measure passed with 3,726 "yes" votes, or 63 percent in favor, to 2,174 "no" votes, or 37 percent, according to final unofficial results from the Polk County Clerk's Office.
"I was just cautiously optimistic until I saw the results," Dallas Superintendent Christy Perry said last week. "We felt like we had given out the information and it was the voters making the decision at that point."
School Board Chairman Mike Blanchard said the shift in focus to maintenance instead of new construction and the slowly improving economic outlook were major factors in the election victory.
"Last year, the world stopped turning at right about the time people were filling out their ballots and we were asking people to increase taxes," Blanchard said.
The new bond will take up to seven years to pay off, but it won't change the average rates taxpayers have been paying on the district's current bond -- about $1.67 per $1,000 of assessed value. The district also is able to take advantage of a federal stimulus program allowing for interest-free bonding, meaning the entire $8.6 million will go to repairs.
Before Election Day, district officials were getting feedback from voters that caring for buildings the district already has is a better plan than building new.
The Nov. 3 results are strong confirmation of what supporters were being told during the campaign.
"I want to thank the community for trusting us to take care of our schools," Blanchard said.
The next tasks are selling the bonds and putting together a citizens' advisory committee to oversee bond repair projects. The district has prioritized needed repairs and will focus on roofs and heating systems first. Perry hopes to see the highest priority work completed next summer. The goal is to have repairs and replacements finished by 2011, but that depends on if contractors find unexpected repairs, Perry said.