IGH school referendum passes narrowly

It may not have been an overwhelming show of support, but the slim 127-vote margin by which Inver Grove Heights residents voted in favor of the school district’s bond referendum was enough to yield some big fixes for community schools.

The $24.8 million bond referendum received 1,761 yes votes in the Nov. 5 election, or 52 percent of the total vote, compared to 1,634 votes against.

The referendum, which will cost the average Inver Grove Heights resident an extra $6.42 a month in property taxes, will allow improvements including the addition of secure entrances at Simley and Salem Hills, reroofing and replacing windows at all sites and improving a media arts area for online learning. In addition, a new theater at Simley will offer more seating and backstage space.

Of the total bond money, 25 percent would be used for the theater and 13 percent would be used to improve athletic areas.

In a statement following the referendum win, District 199 Superintendent Deirdre Wells said the district anticipates it will be able to start work as early as June 2014.

“We can now begin to address the facilities needs that were identified by the district facilities committee,” Wells wrote.

Although the vote was close, the win might be attributed to a group of Simley students who formed “Students for Better Schools.” The group passed out pro-referendum flyers, knocked on doors to encourage residents to vote and even created a Facebook page.

After the referendum was approved, State Rep. Joe Atkins wrote on the group’s Facebook page to congratulate the students, saying, “No doubt in my mind... The referendum would not have passed had it not been for the Students For Better Schools group.”

— Heather Edwards

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