School board sets March 3 special election for facilities project bond vote

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By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

Voters in the MFL MarMac Community School District will head to the polls on Tuesday, March 3, to decide if $7.8 million in general obligation bonds should be issued to fund an extensive facilities improvement project.

The school board authorized the special election at its Jan. 13 regular meeting, after recognizing a petition submitted by 191 eligible electors.

“That was way more signatures than we needed to bring it to vote,” said MFL MarMac Superintendent Dale Crozier. Based on the last school election, just 144 would have sufficed.

The proposition voters will consider reads, “Shall the Board of Directors of the MFL MarMac Community School District in the Counties of Allamakee and Clayton, State of Iowa, be authorized to contract indebtedness and issue General Obligation Bonds in an amount not to exceed $7.8 million to provide funds to construct, build, furnish and equip an elementary addition and a fieldhouse addition to the existing Monona school building, including related remodeling, and to make improvements to the McGregor school building?”

Project plans include creating a new entry on the east side of the elementary school with office space that’s more visible, revamping the bathrooms and adding a conference room plus a large academic commons area that will serve multiple purposes.

The new fieldhouse will include two courts, with a center competition court embedded within, as well as locker rooms and an entrance commons, that will be attached to the current high school building.

Small remodeling projects will also be undertaken at both the Monona and McGregor centers.

The requested $7.8 million is projected to pay for the entire project. If the measure is approved, Crozier said taxes are anticipated to increase around $1.75 per $1,000 of assessed property. 

“At the same time, we should be able to safely decrease the rest of our levies, making the net change less than $1, as compared to 2017 rates,” he stated in his most recent “Crozier’s Comments” column. “Generally speaking, a residential property with a taxable valuation of $100,000 would see an annual increase of $89. If you consider that we plan to decrease the rest of the levy and keep the total net difference under $1, that will equate to about $50 a year for a $100,000 house.”

Crozier and the school board members have said the improvements will offer long-term sustainability for the district—updated facilities will hopefully attract more families to MFL MarMac and increase enrollment.

The fieldhouse, in particular, “will represent more opportunities for our students, our community and our local economy,” he recently shared. “It’s not about sports, but rather moving forward progressively.”

Marquette property sold, transferred

At its Monday meeting, the school board officially approved the sale of 4.9 acres of school district property in the Marquette bench neighborhood to the city of Marquette, at a price of $28,000.

A hill at the backside of the baseball field, the land was part of a 9-acre chunk Crozier discovered the school owned a couple years ago. The board decided to divide the property into three parcels. This one was put up for sale while another, which is part of the baseball field and includes some lights and a portion of city utilities, will be given to the city of Marquette. 

The third piece, a sliver of yard next to the ball field, will go to property owners Dave and Meaghan Schneider, who’ve been maintaining it. The board approved the transfer of that property at Monday night’s meeting as well.

Staffing changes approved

The board considered several staffing changes, including the resignation of Megan Birdnow as a cook at the Monona Center. Contracts were approved for Don Sawvell as a bus driver and Curtis Goodman as a special education paraprofessional.

School receives generous donations

During their administrative reports, elementary principal Kathy Koether and McGregor Center principal Denise Mueller said the district has been the recent recipient of several generous donations. 

Koether said $750 from Peoples State Bank will help fund the Snack Pack Program, which, with help from local churches, provides bags of food for students in need to take home on the weekends. Thirty-five students at the elementary school currently utilize the service, while 26 fourth and fifth graders and 24 middle schoolers are recipients.

“People depend on that. It’s a really good program,” said Koether.

Another donation—$500 from Luana Savings Bank—will help purchase winter gear for students in need.

“There are also a lot of little contributions all the time,” Koether shared. “It’s always good to have that community support.”

“It’s amazing, the giving people in our community,” added Mueller, who said she’s even had an individual stop in and donate $300 toward students who are struggling with lunch bills or feeling left out during the meal.

At Thanksgiving time, Koether said the school helped Living Faith United Methodist Church connect with several families to provide food to, and, at Christmas, some people adopted families in the district to make the season a little brighter.

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