The Elkhorn Area School District will ask voters this spring for $6.92 million to buy the St. Patrick School building and additional money to keep up with district operational expenses, the district administrator said Tuesday.
The school board Monday approved two referendum questions that will appear on the April ballot.
Buying the school, which the district is leasing for its Options Charter School, would have no tax rate impact because the purchase would come as the district is retiring debt, District Administrator Jason Tadlock said.
Renovation projects at the middle school and Jackson Elementary School are nearly paid for, according to a district facility needs presentation.
Tadlock said estimates show building a new school of the same size would cost about twice as much as upgrading St. Patrick School.
The district is seeking $6.92 million, most of which—nearly $6 million—would be used to renovate and update the school, which offers about 20,000 square feet of space on 16.5 acres.
Tadlock said the district started leasing the space from St. Patrick Catholic Church about four years ago, with an option to buy it.
“We take a lot of pride in making the most of our buildings. Our district offices are gorgeous. And that’s an original building from 1887, and we’re still using that today,” Tadlock said. “I think there’s a lot of support behind restoring this building, making good use of it and being good stewards of it.”
Options Charter School has more than 200 students in grades 4K through 12. In summer, the district also introduced the Options Career and College Academy, which gives students a chance to earn technical diplomas, certifications and associate degrees.
Upgrading the school also will prevent it from drifting into poor condition, Tadlock said.
A preliminary schedule calls for site work to be complete in October 2021.
The second referendum question on the April ballot asks voters for another $200,000 in recurring operational funds.
If approved, the district projects the measure would raise the tax rate by 9 cents per $1,000 of equalized property valuation, meaning an extra $9 for the owner of a $100,000 home.
Tadlock said the district’s current maintenance budget is $300,000 each year, so increasing it to $500,000 would help address maintenance needs such as roofs, landscaping, building interiors and exteriors, and heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.
The district has to maintain about 740,000 square feet of space across 190 acres of property.
The operating funds would also feed technology needs, such as smart boards and computers in the classroom, software licensing costs, servers and other infrastructure, according to the presentation.
The election is April 7.