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School board approves bond referendum

School board approves bond referendum

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If approved by voters Nov. 3, Gretna Public Schools proposed bond referendum will go down in history, more than tripling the dollar amount approved in 2018, previously the largest bond in district history.

Finalized Aug. 24 by the GPS Board of Education, the district will seek voter approval of a $258 million bond to fund projects including a second high school, third middle school, eighth elementary, the district’s portion of the competition pool cost, a multi-purpose room at Gretna Middle School, technology and security upgrades and future site acquisition.

The amount approved was the smaller number of two proposals made by the Citizens’ Building Committee, made up of community members who help identify district needs and potential costs.

A proposed $298 million would have included a ninth elementary school, among other things.

With the district’s current bond levy at 36 cents and the total levy at $1.41 per $100 valuation, 2020 bond approval would see a 7.26 cent increase in 2023, meaning an additional $145.36 in taxes for the owner of a $200,000 home.

This number errs on the side of caution, factoring in only a 7.5% in district growth, a number that has been at 10% for the last five years, according to the district’s financial advisor D.A. Davidson.

Should district growth remain at 10% or more, the levy’s peak increase would be 5.34 cents.

Projected growth played a role in the board’s decision to seek the lower number from its taxpayers, considering that if the number holds steady at 10%, going back to seek the funding for the district’s ninth elementary down the road — if needed — could essentially be a levy neutral bond or mere 1 to 2 cent levy increase.

Also at its Aug. 24 meeting, the Board of Education:

• Approved a $594,500 bid to McArdle Grading for the pre-grading at the second high school site.

• Gave first round approval to a new board policy implementing a procedure for complaints of sexual harassment. The policy, per federal and state guidelines, details a formal process for complaints.

• Approved a permanent storm sewer agreement that grants an easement to the north of Falling Waters Elementary School.

• Heard a report on the opening of school from all building principals.

• Heard a report on construction projects happening around the district.

The next regular school board meeting will be Sept. 14 at 7 p.m. at the administration building, 11717 S. 216th St. The board meets the second and fourth Monday of each month. For meeting agendas and minutes, visit gpsne.org.

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