UPDATE: Voters Approve $19 Million Referendum for Grafton School - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

UPDATE: Voters Approve $19 Million Referendum for Grafton School

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Voters in Grafton, North Dakota, have approved a $19 million bond referendum that will be used to build a middle school. Of the 864 votes cast, 687 were for the bond and 177 were against. An approval of 60% was needed for the project to move forward.





The polls are open at Century Elementary School in Grafton, North Dakota, where voters will decide on Thursday whether or not to approve a $19 million bond referendum. Polls are open from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on October 3. Century Elementary is located at 830 West 15th Street.

The Grafton Public School District is proposing a middle school. The $19 million project will be partially paid by the school district by utilizing existing capital and borrowing against internal operational efficiencies gained from operating all facilities under one roof, according to the school district website.

The remaining $14 Million of the plan will be funded by a building bond levy, if voters approve the plan in October. Approximately 90% of the $14 Million or $12.6 Million can be borrowed from the State of North Dakota at a rate of approximately 1%. If approved, the existing overall school district mill levy tax will still be below current levy.

The school is asking for the referendum to be passed because of an increase in enrollment. The Kindergarten through 12th grade enrollment for the past three years, as well as the current registered enrollment is increasing.

John Powers from Applied Insights, a planning firm that specializes in forecasting demographic changes in schools and communities, predict that over the next ten years Grafton Public School will see a slight but gradual continuous increase in enrollment. The enrollment increase will be at the elementary level.

Under the proposed project, all students will attend school at the same location, but the "school within a school" concept will keep students within their own areas. PreK-5 students will be in the elementary wing, grades 6-8 will continue with the middle school concept and be kept separate from the high school students.

Separate entrances will be used by the three schools as well as separate lunchroom for the elementary and a shared lunchroom for the middle school and high school but with different scheduled breakfast and lunch times. Library and gym schedules will be utilized to keep students separate during the school day.

If the bond issue is approved, the district would be able to bid the project by spring. Construction could begin in the summer of 2014. Officials hope the new school would be ready in time for the 2015-16 school year.

Property taxes will decrease in Grafton, even if voters approve the bond issue. The North Dakota Legislature approved a 50-mill school tax levy buy down, which means that the state government, rather than property owners, pays for 50 mills of each school district's property taxes for 2013.

The vote is being held on October 3 because the deadline for submitting a Certificate of Levy to the county auditor is October 10. The Certificate of Levy is the amount of mills/dollars the school district is requesting in each fund for the 2013 tax year.

For more information on voting and the referendum, click on the link to the right of this story.

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