Spring 2014 Election

Parkview voters approve construction, spending referendums

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Gina Duwe
Tuesday, April 1, 2014

ORFORDVILLE—Parkview students will finally get their updated schools.

A $17 million construction referendum passed by only 26 votes Tuesday, but the news brought tears, hugs, screams and clapping at a celebration party for supporters at Knute’s Bar & Grill.

“It was nerve-wracking and stressful and exhilarating,” School Board President Clay Hammes said. “And then I just can’t say how happy I am and proud of the residents of the district.”

After defeating four of the last five construction referendums, Parkview School District voters approved the construction referendum by 50.57 percent to essentially create a new junior/senior high school.

The referendum for the construction and to swap the grade levels at the Orfordville schools passed 1,146-1,120.

A second referendum to exceed the state revenue caps for operating expenses also passed 1,230-1,044. That vote approved spending an additional $350,000 annually for three years.

Parkview was one of three area districts with referendums on Tuesday’s ballot asking taxpayers for money to fund operating expenses. Big Foot Union High School District approved its referendum, while the Delavan-Darien School District’s referendum failed. They were among dozens of school districts in the state—many of them rural—seeking additional property taxes above the state-imposed revenue limits.

“It was like the Super Bowl and World Series,” Superintendent Steve Lutzke said of the moment the final votes were reported.

He attributed the referendums’ success to hard work from a “yes” committee that helped bring supporters out.

“I think it was a tough question. We were asking for a lot of money,” Lutzke said. “I think it shows anytime you’re asking to raise property taxes, it’s a difficult thing to pass.”

With both referendums approved, the tax impact on a $100,000 home is an additional $360 for each of the first three years and then $270 annually for years four through 20.

It’s even more astounding given Parkview’s failed referendums of the past, Lutzke said. Voters turned down four of the last five referendums since 1999 to build a new high school or do facility maintenance. The high school was built in 1964, and the junior high was added in 1970.

Both Hammes and Lutzke said they thought voters saw the common-sense approach to this plan and community effort in developing the proposal.

New classrooms, a commons and a three-station gym will be among the additions at the elementary school in Orfordville, which will become the junior/senior high. The current junior/senior high will be renovated to become the pre-kindergarten through sixth grade school, and the Footville school will close.

The district’s buildings and grounds committee and long-range facility planning committee now will work with Somerville Architects to finalize the plans before putting the project out to bid.

Construction likely wouldn’t start until late July, Lutzke said. A final timeline is not set, but he hoped construction could be complete for the start of school in September 2015.

The district’s second referendum passed by a wider margin: 1,230-1,044. The additional money will pay for operating expenses, including technology and curriculum materials, classroom materials, professional development training and special education costs.

Without the additional money for operations, the district anticipated a $2.2 million deficit over the next three years, Lutzke has said. 

Hammes said he is proud of everyone involved in the referendum effort and of the community.

“This is certainly going to help not only the school district but the community,” he said.

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