Dunkerton voters to decide on $2 million school bond referendum - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dunkerton voters to decide on $2 million school bond referendum

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DUNKERTON (KWWL) -- Families in several Eastern Iowa communities are preparing to head to the polls Tuesday. Anamosa, Williamsburg, and Dunkerton school districts are hoping to pass referendums. In Dunkerton, the community is deciding whether or not to invest more than $5 million on a new high school. $2 million would come from a property tax increase.

Here's how it breaks down - if you own a $100,000 home, you'll pay an extra $10 each month. Superintendent James Stanton realizes this comes during tough economic times, but he's hoping families will decide the benefit for the community is worth the added cost.

Like any older building, the original Dunkerton school has quite a bit of charm, as well as a few quirks. But Stanton says, historic character can't change the hard facts.

"Eventually the 1921 building is going to come down. Which is kind of sad, because it is a community landmark," he noted.

The problem is not its age. Two weeks after the EF5 tornado of 2008, Dunkerton was hit by another severe storm.

"Those straight-lined winds actually picked up the roof of the building and shifted it over, moved it...creating all kinds of structural problems for us," said Stanton.

When it rains, the walls fill with water, the brick and mortar is cracking, and because the building is nearly a century old, repairing it is not a feasible option.

"If we don't do this, we can't continue to house our students here. If we don't house our students here, they're going to have to go to another school district," explained Stanton.

Which means taxpayers would pay more to bus kids out of town, and a vital part of the community would be history.

"You don't have to go very far to find towns that, at one time, had schools...that have closed those schools, and those towns are now struggling. We're thinking the voters are going to say, we'll pay more money and stay in Dunkerton."

If the measure does pass, the district is ready to begin the bidding process immediately. Construction would take about eight to ten years -- which is almost exactly how long inspectors believe the current building will last.

Dunkerton residents can cast their ballot at the First Baptist Church from 12:00-8:00 PM Tuesday night. Sixty percent of voters must say "yes" to the referendum for it to pass.

Online Reporter Colleen O'Shaughnessy

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