Elkhorn Area School District voters said “yes” to a proposal to buy the St. Patrick’s School building, which houses Options Charter School, and add $200,000 to the district’s operational budget.

About 57% of district residents approved both referendum questions on the ballot, according to unofficial results released by Walworth County on Monday night.

With everything going on in the country, state and county during the COVID-19 pandemic—including the financial strain on many families—Superintendent Jason Tadlock said the election results made him “quite emotional.”

“It actually brought me to tears,” he said.

The district already leases the St. Patrick’s School building. Buying it and renovating it will cost $6.92 million, according to the district.

Tadlock has said buying a new building for the charter school that offers in-building and at-home curriculum would have cost about twice as much. The school’s enrollment is growing, too.

That first referendum question will have no tax rate impact, however, because the district is retiring debt from other projects.

Tadlock said Monday night that the district now will finalize its purchase from St. Patrick’s Catholic Church and see how much work can be done on the building this summer. A preliminary timeline said most work will be done in summer 2021.

The second referendum question will add operational funds for the whole district to use, not just St. Patrick’s. The district operations budget will jump from $300,000 to $500,000.

Taxpayers will see an increase of 9 cents per $1,000 of equalized property valuation, according to the district.

The extra operational money will be used for maintenance and technology updates, some of which might begin over the summer, Tadlock said.

“(I’m) just overwhelmed and grateful to live in such a great community that supports education the way they do,” he said.