GF voters approve school millage increase on third attempt

Friday, June 13, 2008
The millage will help pay for construction of this new, two-story building between the old gym and agri building. It will house students in grades 6-8, freeing up space on campus for growth in the high school and elementary school. One estimate of the cost of construction for the 27,500-square-foot building is $4 million.

GREEN FOREST -- The third time was the charm, as voters passed an increase of 3.82 mills to build new classrooms.

Tuesday's election delivered a lopsided margin of victory for the school district. The millage increase passed by a total of 446 to 236, a margin of 65 to 35 percent.

Voters had previously defeated requests for increased millages the past two years, by a 419 to 402 margin in September 2007, and by 320 to 294 the previous year.

School Board President Brian Ayers said he was "pleasantly surprised" at the results. "We finally got the right building the public wanted," he said. "People were able to see this was needed."

Ayers attributed the positive vote to an emphasis on the present and future students at the school. "It's all about the kids, not the school board or the superintendent," he said.

Interim Superintendent Bob Evans echoed those sentiments. "The community saw the bottom line, that we needed to do something," he said. "We tried to make it simple as we could, and as reasonable and financially feasible as we could."

School officials had emphasized a very basic approach to meeting state standards for academic space. A new classroom building will create space in the high school and elementary areas by moving grades 6-8 into one new building. The new building will also allow the school to take students out of portable buildings.

An architect had already drawn a proposal for the new building, but the district did not want to pay for detailed drawings until after the election. Evans said the architect will now be able to proceed with the final drawings, which will then be submitted for bids.

Once the district has estimated costs for the project, bonds will be issued to pay for the school's 42 percent share of the cost. The state will match those funds with 58 percent. The new 3.82 mills will repay that bond issue.

Evans was hired as interim superintendent after the retirement of former superintendent Larry Bennett in November. He will complete his interim term at the end of June. Jeff Williams will take over as superintendent on July 1.

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