River Trails District 26 building expansion request defeated

 
 

With all precincts counted, River Trails Elementary District 26's plan to borrow money to expand Park View School failed in Tuesday's referendum.

Unofficial vote tallies showed 928 people in favor and 1,113 opposed with eight of 10 precincts reporting.

The district proposed borrowing $19 million to renovate Park View School so it can hold kindergarten and preschool classes, freeing up space at two elementary schools.

District officials said growing enrollment, which has risen by more than 12 percent since 2012, is necessitating the request.

"We're going to regroup. There's a lot of options to look at and the board hasn't made any final decisions about what we're going to do," Superintendent Nancy Wagner said.

The owner of a $300,000 home would pay an extra $222 in taxes annually for 20 years if the borrowing was approved and the school buildings would be ready by the fall of 2020.

Concerns about higher taxes or separating kindergartners from other students may have been the reason voters objected, Wagner said, "but when we went to the community and asked for feedback that was the best option."

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Expanding current buildings is "prohibitively expensive," she noted.

Park View currently houses five preschool classes and the district office, while kindergarten classes are held at the district's two elementary buildings, Indian Grove and Euclid.

By moving kindergarten, there would be more room at the elementary schools to absorb enrollment growth for grades one through five, officials say.

With the expansion, Park View School would have more classroom space, a gymnasium/lunchroom, a library, and fine arts room, among other additions. Security at the school would be improved, officials said.

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