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Mill increase for building fund to be decided June 23

Posted 6/09/15 (Tue)

By Jody Michael
Divide County School District officials are hoping voters approve a measure on June 23 to increase the district’s building fund levy to 20 mills or about $500,000, up from 10 mills.
Superintendent Sherlock Hirning said passage of the measure would provide an additional $250,000 to address a laundry list of infrastructure repairs and replacements.
“Roofing replacements, heating upgrades in both buildings, lighting retrofitting, window replacements, entrance door replacements, buses need replaced -- the list continues to go on and on,” Hirning said.
After a $20 million bond measure failed in April, the school board decided its next step would be to focus on the district’s most “immediate needs,” Hirning said.
“At least through the bond issue process, people became aware of the needs we have,” he said. “My gut feeling is the major roadblock was the size. I feel confident people understand the needs we’re trying to address with an additional 10 mills.”
By law, the school district can ask for no more than 20 mills, although Hirning said that amount will allow work to begin on only the most critical issues.
“We’ll have to prioritize,” he said. “Number one is heating; that’s at the top of the list.”
Hirning said the heating systems in the elementary school and most of the high school are nearing the end of their life.
“They’re obsolete,” he said. “There are no parts available.”
Much of the roofing has reached its life expectancy as well.
“A portion of the elementary roof is being replaced this summer for $250,000,” Hirning said. “We have four to five times that amount of roofing to do in the next three to five years.”
Hirning said the time to address these deficiencies is now.
“We run a risk in stretching out the replacements that are needed,” Hirning said. “The longer you wait, the more it’s going to cost you in repairs. It’s like an old car that nickel-and-dimes you to death.”
Passage of the measure requires 60 percent of voters to be in favor. Candidates for three school board seats will also be on the ballot, including one contested race between incumbent Holly Krecklau and challenger Jody Gunlock.
The polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 23 at the Divide County Public Library, Noonan Community Center and Fortuna Senior Center.