Ken Crawford bond

Highland schools Superintendent Ken Crawford explains the proposed school bond at an informational meeting at Madeline’s Coffee House on Saturday.

Highland school district voters head to the polls on Tuesday, Sept. 10, to decide if the district will issue $3.7 million in bonds to pay for a variety of improvements to buildings.

Voters will need to go to one of two precincts to cast their ballots in the special election.

Ainsworth Precinct: Ainsworth Elementary School building, 835 Park St., Ainsworth. For the city of Ainsworth, Crawford Township, Highland Township, Jackson Township and Oregon Township.

Riverside Precinct: Riverside City Hall, 60 Greene St., Riverside. For the city of Riverside, Iowa Township in Washington County and the Liberty Township in Johnson County.

If approved, the bond would pay for an upgrade to the heating and air conditioning system at the middle and high school plus the replacement of windows at the school. There will be some remodeling at the high school to add storage space for the performing arts program and get a freezer moved inside the kitchen. At the elementary school, the playground will be updated and made accessible for all students. 

The list sounds long, but the amount requested is less than similar-size districts in the area have asked voters to fund.

Highland district officials and school board members worked over several months to keep the bond asking price low so that the overall tax rate in the district stayed level, enabling the district to pay off the bond in less than 10 years.

The measure going to voters calls for the bonds to be paid off in 2029. The first payments would be made in 2021 if the bonds were sold in 2020.

District Business Manager Sue Rich said the current tax rate in the district is $13.09 per thousand dollars of taxable value on a property.

She said that the estimate with the bond payments is a tax rate of $13.15 per year, but that could vary up or down from year to year. Last year, the tax rate was $13.19 per thousand dollars of taxable value. 

All the numbers Rich provided are estimates based on projections by the district’s financial consultant Piper-Jaffrey. Interest rates, which determine the actual payoff amount each year, will be set when the bonds are sold.

Maintaining an even rate would be possible because the valuation of property in the district rises each year.

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