Northeastern bond issue for $117M new schools rejected

Every voting booth was full at the First Christian Church on Middle Urbana Road Tuesday. Bill Lackey/Staff

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Every voting booth was full at the First Christian Church on Middle Urbana Road Tuesday. Bill Lackey/Staff

Northeastern Local Schools voters rejected Tuesday a school bond issue that would have built $117 million new schools in the community.

About 52 percent of voters cast ballots against the bond issue while 47 percent voted for it, according to final, unofficial Clark County Board of Elections results. About 85 percent of voters in Champaign County in the Northeastern school district voted no, according to unofficial results from the Champaign County Board of Elections office.

MORE: Northeastern voters to decide on new $117M schools

“Obviously, we are disappointed,” Superintendent John Kronour said. “We felt we worked very hard to come up with a plan and getting the input of the community.”

The plan was to build two kindergarten-through-12th grade buildings on either side of the district. One building would have been built near South Vienna school and the other would have been built by Kenton Ridge High School.

The bond issue was for $77 million locally and would have lasted for 37 years. Residents who owned a $100,000 property would have been asked to pay about $25 more a month, about $295 annually.

The district is the second largest in Clark County and serves about 3,300 students.

RELATED: Northeastern board members debate $100M new school plans

Kronour said he wasn’t sure if the district will go back on the ballot, adding the board will have to make that decision. Northeastern voters also elected two new school board members and an incumbent Tuesday.

The district needs new buildings, Kronour and board members have said. The aging schools need constant repairs, he said, and lack electrical infrastructure to educate kids using modern technology. In the case of Rolling Hills, it has no walls and use cubicle-like dividers to separate classrooms.

“We have facilities that have numerous issues and this result does not change,” Kronour said. “We need to come together to figure out what to do next.”

Despite the defeat, Kronour said he appreciated the many residents and students who worked hard for the district in support of the bond issue.

Michaela Rice, a 2015 Northeastern graduate, said she voted Tuesday because she wanted to support the bond.

“I went to Northeastern so I know first-hand we need new schools,” Rice said. “I voted ‘yes’ because I know we need new schools big time. There is a rise in taxes but I feel education is important and we need the right facilities.”

Ted Williams, who is a former principal in the district, also voted Tuesday for the bond.

“I don’t think you will find anyone in the community who will say that our students don’t deserve new buildings,” he said. “Our buildings need replacing.”

EXTRA: Clark County voters to pick several school board seats in November

In the South Vienna schools, temperatures often creep up to unbearable levels, Williams said, and student safety is a major concern.

One woman the Springfield News-Sun spoke with Tuesday at a Northeastern polling location said she voted against the school levy because she was “tired of paying for other people’s kids.” She declined to give her name.

$117 million: Proposed cost of the two new schools

3,300: Students at Northeastern Local Schools

$77 million: The local cost of the bond issue proposed to voters Tuesday

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