With school enrollment up 30 percent in 15 years, Grand Island kicks off a major school bond issue in the midst of a noisy school.
Cowbells clank in the midst of lessons, while on the other side of the room, kids play a math game just outside the bathroom.
"Every student uses this restroom," Principal Jeanna Fiala said.
Doors are few and distractions are many inside Jefferson Elementary.
Fiala said, "When you don't have doors and have shower curtains that are only thing between you and the next classroom, it does create issues for kids, unneeded issues."
Three schools would be replaced with new buildings if the bond passes. And they would add classrooms to two schools on the west side of town, which would be equivalent to building a new school
Campaign Chair Dave Koubek said, "Grand Island has fared very well compared to other cities the same size. That's a great problem to have. But we do need to address school system. That's one of our main issues. The other is safety of course. Safety is always a top priority of the school system."
The bond would cost nearly $70 million, raising taxes on a $100,000 home $85 a year. Leaders of the Vote Yes for Kids campaign say that's money well spent.
Koubek said, "It's an investment that I think will pay dividends for a lot of years down the road and people are going to have to see that."
They'll only have a short time to reach voters. The election commissioner will send out ballots on August 20, and they must be returned by September 9. Voters must use a black ink pen or number two pencil, and sign the outside of the envelope to cast a valid ballot.
Campaign leaders say a growing community needs to look to the future.
Koubek said, "A building doesn't make great education, but when you give great teachers great tools the outcome for success is much greater."
Safety is another thing they want voters to keep in mind. Schools without doors and walls are also hard to secure.
- Build new Jefferson Elementary at current location;
- Build new Starr Elementary at new location on Adams St.;
- Build new Stolley Park Elementary at current location;
- Expand Engelman Elementary;
- Expand and renovate Shoemaker Elementary;
- Expand and renovate Barr Middle School; and
- Renovate the 100 wing of Grand Island Senior High.
Election Commissioner Dale Baker estimates the special election by mail will cost about $50,000. She said her office will be reimbursed by the school district for those expenses.
The campaign is privately funded and organized by community members.