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Westside, Ralston asking voters for more money towards education

Posted at 6:53 PM, Oct 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-07 19:53:39-04

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Neb. (KMTV) — Ralston public school buildings are getting a little long in the tooth.

Many of the elementary buildings were made in the 1960s and ’70s with little renovation done since. That's why school leaders are putting forward a nearly $84 million bond issue to address every school in the district.

“What we have included will quite honestly impact every single staff member and every single student in our district,” said Superintendent Mark Adler.

If passed, the district plans to build a new school next to Mockingbird Elementary, replacing the old school.

But the Mockingbird building would then be used for several years for students at other elementary schools that would be getting upgrades.

Those upgrades would go to all schools and include technology and HVAC upgrades. There would also be plans to build a baseball and softball complex at the high school.

“Our kids deserve to have a world-class learning environment like the other kids in the city,” said Adler.

To do this, the school would need to raise their levy by around six and a half cents, which adds up to nearly $130 dollars more a year on a $200,000 home.

Superintendent Mark Adler says this is the first time the district is asking for a bond issue since 2001.

“We’re not going to come back to the community in five years for this, we’re trying to plan this over time so that we don’t have to keep coming back and asking for more,” said Adler.

It's a different story at Westside schools.

Per state law, the district needs voter permission to go 15 cents over the $1.05 levy.

That extra money goes toward technology like new tablets, paying for master's degrees for teachers, and keeping a modular class schedule in the high school.

“Delivering some results and offering some services that other districts can’t necessarily offer,” said School Board President Doug Krenzer.

The override isn’t needed for another two years, but the district is going at it early to ensure it gets done.

There have been close votes in the past, including 2017, when it won by just two percent of the vote.

“Worst case scenario is we’ll try again because it’s that important. We don’t think we’ll have to this cycle,” said Krenzer.

The reason for school board president Doug Krenzer confidence is the district has reached out to residents more this time around.

“Really try to get out and make the case for why this is important. It's not an extra for us, we view it as an essential,” said Krenzer.

It is a vote-by-mail-only election. Ballots need to be in a dropbox or inside the walls of the Douglas County Election Commission by 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

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