Winside voters to decide on bond issue


A laundry list of items, from outdated electric panels to settling of buildings, to cracks in the walls and buildings that are more than a block from the main building, members of the Winside Community Task Force have been working to inform voters in the Winside Public School District of the need to support a bond issue.

A group of community members called the Wildcat Community Task Force has been meeting weekly to pull together accurate information regarding the needs, project design, and financial impact of the bond issue to share with district patrons. 

The goal of the group is to make sure that every person has accurate information before voting on the bond issue. This group is scheduling several small group outreach meetings throughout the month of April, has sent out an informational brochure to households, and will be holding public information meetings on Sunday, April 18 and Tuesday, April 20 beginning with tours at 6:15 p.m. with meeting to follow at 7 p.m.

Winside Public Schools District voters will be asked to authorize a bond issuance not to exceed $14.67 million on May 11, 2021.  The election will be by mail-in ballot with the mailing to registered voters anticipated the week of April 19, 2021.

The school board is faced with urgent facility needs that have grown beyond the current district budget. 

A portion of the high school building’s foundation is cracked and failing, several of the school building’s mechanical systems are aging out, and as with many facilities its age, there are many handicap and fire safety code issues.  Security upgrades also need to be addressed.

The board engaged the architectural firm DRL to provide a professional study of the facility needs as well as present additional options that would provide for security upgrades and additional classroom space. This additional space is needed for Career Technical Education and Agriculture.  Spaces slated to be used by both the district and community include a multi-purpose area and fitness room.

The board and school personnel worked with the professional design team to pare down original ideas for addressing the needs that came in at over $18 million dollars.  The board then invited several community members from across the district to participate in visioning sessions with the architect to determine priorities and provide feedback on project costs. The final results of these meetings were that a nearly unanimous majority of participants believed the board should move forward with a bond issue to address these facility and program needs.

The overall net levy increase for district patrons is expected to be around 7 cents per $100 of assessed taxable valuation for the first two years and then will be reduced in following years to a lesser net tax impact. The projection takes into account net option dollars sent to the district by the State of Nebraska due to an increase in option enrollment students as well as significant wind tower dollars that will begin flowing into the district’s general fund account starting this next fiscal year.  The bond levy itself will be around 20 cents, but the actual net tax impact of district patrons will be greatly reduced by the previously mentioned economic factors. 

Current bond rates are also historically low at below two percent which means district tax payers will be paying over $3 million less in interest than if the same issue were done two years ago.