Locals discuss $2.89 million Southern school bond issue ahead of mail-in vote

BLUE SPRINGS, NE — In two weeks, Southeast Nebraskans will know if there’s an addition coming to the Southern school district elementary building or not.

The district held a public forum on a proposed $2.89 million school bond Wednesday night in the Blue Springs elementary multipurpose room. That room is used as gathering space in mornings, a cafeteria, a P-E room for K-6, and high school wrestling practice space. It’s also at the center of the bond issue.

“This space is constantly being used,” school board member Dana Dorn said. “You can kind of see it’s kind of somewhat of a store area, too, because we’re out of space. (The Board realizes) that importance of getting more space for our kids to be able to be active and learn.”

The bond would fund the construction of a new gym, two classrooms, exterior basketball courts and drainage improvements. The classroom space would allow the district’s preschool for three-year-olds to move from a separate building and double enrollment.

School board member Dana Dorn is says it’s time for the 44-year-old elementary building to get its first addition since 1999.

“How can we invest in our schools so that in 20 years, we’re not 20 more years behind," Dorn said. "When is the right time? There’s never going to be the right time, but we need to find a right time to do it.”

The project would add about 4.5 cents per $100 valuation to the district’s levy for 20 years.

The audience of about 20 people was split on the issue. Rural landowners argued they would foot a disproportionate amount of the bill at a time when money is already tight. They also accused the administration of “fast-tracking” the vote and overlooking possible benefits from a recently passed law that take effect January 1.

Dorn urges voters to get educated on the proposal before mailing in their ballot.

“Come out and learn," Dorn said. "The school is open, you can get tours, you can get collateral off of the website. It’s important that you learn about why we need this and where it’s going to help our kids.”

Ballots are due to the Gage County Clerk’s Office by 5:00 p.m. on September 14th. If passed, the addition could be completed by January 2023.