Western Iowa School District Voters Reject A Bond For A Fourth Time

Sep 11, 2019

A western Iowa school district has failed to pass a bond for a fourth time in four years, though it significantly pared this one down. 

The school board for the Sergeant Bluff-Luton Community School District will meet in October to discuss its options moving forward after voters in the Woodbury County school district rejected a $33 million bond Tuesday. The bond would’ve covered building a new primary school and moving baseball and softball fields. It only got a little more than 39 percent support and needed at least 60 percent to pass.

This year’s bond was about half of last year’s bond, which called for building a new high school along with a primary school. The other two previous bonds were also higher than this year’s, so Superintendent Rod Earleywine said he was hopeful the 2019 bond would make it.

But shortly before the bond election, he got talking with some voters at school events.

“It became pretty clear that a lot of people that had voted yes for the previous bond issues were most likely either not going to vote or they were going to vote no because they did not believe this was the right plan, it did not solve all of our issues and problems," Earleywine said.

Only a little more than 1,600 people turned out for this year’s bond election, according to Woodbury County’s unofficial results canvass. The $62 million bond in 2018 got about 48 percent support out of close to 2,200 ballots cast.

The school district can continue to use its primary school for a few more years, but the building has some outdated infrastructure, Earleywine said.

“Can we continue to maintain it for a few more years?” Earleywine asked. “I’m certain that we can.”

“But at some point in time, this community has to understand and realize that the primary [school] needs either major renovations, $14, 15, 16 million worth of renovations, or we end-of-life it and we do something different,” he said.

A group called Concerned SBL Citizens for Responsible Spending has strongly campaigned against these bonds. It’s unclear who runs the group.