Monroe County voters reject $10 million school bond

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Monroe County voters reject $10 million school bond
By Charles Boothe,  The Register-Herald

PETERSTOWN — Voters in Monroe County on Saturday rejected a $10 million bond referendum that would have built a new school.

By an unofficial vote of 1,189 against and 609 for, the vote sinks a plan to construct a new school near Ballard, replacing Peterstown elementary and middle schools.

Of the $10 million, about $6 million would have been used for the new school, along with $16 million from the State Building Authority (SBA) and $2 million the county has already set aside.

That $16 million will be lost in the process.

“We knew we were going uphill but I’m surprised it (the vote against) was this strong,” said Andrew Evans, member of the Monroe County Board of Education. “It was very disappointing.”

Evans said it’s disheartening to see voters send the $16 million to another county, but he is particularly sad for the students.

“I hate it for our kids more than anything,” he said. “There definitely were no winners tonight (Saturday). The only losers were our kids.”

The other $4 million of the bond money was to be used for several projects, including a second full-size gym at Mountain View School, a safe entryway, new gym floor and new lighting at James Monroe High School, and some interior renovations at the vocational/technical center.

Evans, school officials and community leaders have been working for more than two years on getting the bond referendum to voters and obtaining money from the state in the process, funding that will now be lost.

State officials visited the schools in Peterstown and after seeing the conditions of the two schools actually raised the amount earmarked for the new school from $14 million to $16 million.

Peterstown Middle School was built in the 1950s and the elementary school was constructed in 1962. Both schools have for years faced many problems, from the deterioration the buildings to outdated electrical systems and poor heating and air conditioning.

To renovate the two old structures will cost $13 million, with no help available from the state.

The new school would have housed grades K-4 and grades 5-8 in separate wings, but both would have been under the same roof. The county already owns the 40 acres that would have been the site of the school, about four miles north of Peterstown on Rt. 12.

“We thought we had a pretty good plan put together,” Evans said. “But at the end of the day, it’s a democracy and it turned out the way it did. I’m not quite sure where we go from here.”

According to the Monroe County Clerk’s Office, only 17.48 percent of the county’s registered voters cast a ballot Saturday.