After two failed referendums in the past two years, the West Salem School District is hoping its newest proposal will appease community members who voted against the two previous referendums.
In February 2015, the school district asked for nearly $32 million, mostly to build a new middle school and convert part of the old school into a space for the Boys and Girls Club. After it failed, the district hired a consultant to conduct a survey of voters to determine what taxpayers in the village would be willing to support.
Using that information, the district has crafted a different approach to the referendum for this November's ballot. The referendum will be split into two questions, one focusing on the middle school and the other highlighting the needs of the district's athletic facilities.
In question one, voters will be asked to support $20 million for renovations and additions to the current middle school along with updates to the elementary school parking lot, bus loading area and cafeteria serving area.
Question two will ask voters for $5 million, to help renovate the running track, provide additional seating at the football stadium, construct three new softball diamonds, construct one new baseball diamond, eight new tennis courts, a multi-purpose facility along with an access road, parking and utilities.
Superintendent Troy Gunderson said regardless of the outcome of the referendum, taxes will decrease. The district estimates a reduction of $75 per $100,000 of property value.
"We heard direction from the community to renovate the school rather than to change it into something else and create a new one, so we're welcoming that idea and it's the basis of our newest proposal," Gunderson said. "The number one reason people struggled with voting yes last time was because they couldn't get past abandoning the building, especially since its only 35 years old."
According to the district, the referendum would help solve crowding in the elementary school, by moving fifth graders into the newly renovated middle school and moving 4k into the elementary school. It also stresses the referendum would help the aging and inadequate infrastructure of the middle school and alleviate campus traffic congestion and safety.
Gunderson said the Boys and Girls Club will donate $2.5 million to renovate the area in the current middle school it would renovate for its own use.