By MAX FILBY
Van Buren school board on Monday approved putting a $29.3 million bond issue on the May 6 ballot.
If voters approve the 37-year, 6.9-mill package, it would pay for building classrooms and a new gym at the middle school and high school.
The district is not eligible for state funding for the project because its property valuation is too high, considering its enrollment.
If the bond issue doesn’t pass in May, it will likely reappear on the November ballot, said Tim Myers, superintendent.
“We’re very hopeful that the community will understand our needs,” Myers said.
Myers said he has only received positive feedback from teachers, staff and community members about the proposed project.
The new classrooms and gym would replace an existing portion of the school that was built in 1918, making it almost 96 years old. The project also would include improvements to the heating and air conditioning systems in both of Van Buren’s schools.
“We’re starting to have a lot of physical problems with areas of the buildings,” Myers said.
The building’s chimneys and some floors are deteriorating, and the building has several leaks, Myers said.
The new classrooms and gym are also needed because of the district’s steadily increasing enrollment, and to improve classroom technology,
“Education has changed,” Myers said. “I’d like to think that we can create better learning spaces for our students than we have now.”
Myers said the district’s enrollment is about 1,100 students.
“It’s not huge but I don’t believe it’s ever been that high before,” Myers said.
The district will likely hold meetings in February to form a building committee, Myers said.
The last time the district asked the community for money was in 2000, to make renovations to the elementary school. Those renovations were completed in 2002.
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