Despite high hopes and a surprising voter turnout of 23 percent, Farragut Community School District’s requested Public Measure A, a $1.34 PPEL, failed in the Sept. 8, 2015 School Election. The loss was close, though, with 135 people voting against the $1.34 per thousand levy, and 126 voting for it. So what happens now?
Despite high hopes and a surprising voter turnout of 23 percent, Farragut Community School District’s requested Public Measure A, a $1.34 PPEL, failed in the Sept. 8, 2015 School Election. The loss was close, though, with 135 people voting against the $1.34 per thousand levy, and 126 voting for it.
The school district asked community members for this10 year levy of a physical and plant and equipment tax (PPEL) of $1.34 per $1,000 of valuation for purposes of bringing the Nishnabotna Jr/Sr High School into ADA compliance. This would consist of renovations within the building, widening doorways, lowering counters, installing a new lift, etc., as well as constructing a 2,000 square foot addition to house handicapped-accessible restrooms and showers as well as a weight room/health class room. The needed addition and other remodeling to be done inside the building were expected to cost approximately $922,000.
Becoming ADA compliant is not just something on the school’s “wish list” but rather a requirement mandated to them from the Department of Education (and Civil Rights) in order to keep their accreditation. Because the district has been warned about and cited for this problem for several years now, this has turned into a make or break situation in which the school will receive no more warnings. If the situation is not resolved, and right away, the school will lose its accreditation, period.
So what happens now?
According to Superintendent Tom Hinrichs and the Farragut School Board, they will set the wheels in motion to bring the matter up for a vote again in Feb. of 2016, and look for ways to lower estimated costs in the meantime.
“We’ll still have to have a PPEL,” Hinrichs said, “even if we can change the scope of the work to be done. I just think based on the public meetings we held, that this price tag on the work was too high.”
Bob Lynn, a member of the school board, said they had to find a way to get the public on board. “We must build community support,” Lynn stated, “from the grassroots level up.”
With the Department of Education’s mandate to fix the compliance issues post-haste, there was some concern about whether the District would be given the time to try again. Hinrichs remained optimistic, though, that the Department of Education was trying to work with the District as long as the District was working to resolve the issue. Hinrichs planned to work to find a solution that would satisfy the Department of Education and ADA compliance needs and be acceptable to the public.
Some wondered if the failure of the PPEL vote would have an adverse affect on enrollment or public opinion, but most people this reporter spoke with were clear that they weren’t against the school, just thought they needed to look at all possible solutions.
Heidi White’s daughter Sophie is a freshman at Nishnabotna, and White said “for us, it won’t change where Sophie goes to school. We don’t plan to make any changes; we need to support the district we’re in. If Sophie were to have a problem academically that would be different, but not this.”
Kathy Culbertson’s children all graduated from Farragut, as did her grandchildren, and she said, “it’s too bad the PPEL vote failed; I’m disappointed. I have one grandchild left in high school at Nishnabotna, and I’m glad that they will bring it up for a vote again. I hope everyone will get out and support their school at the next vote to help keep it here.”