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Dover-Eyota schools asking voters to approve $21M referendum

If approved, the referendum would pay for some space additions and reconfigurations, but it also would pay for a lot of maintenance items.

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If approved by voters, the referendum for Dover-Eyota Public Schools would pay for numerous upgrades and repairs, including a more secure entrance at the middle school and high school.
Jordan Shearer / Post Bulletin
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EYOTA — Dover-Eyota Public Schools is asking voters to approve a construction bond referendum for more than $21 million this August for improvements around the district’s facilities.

Area residents will cast their ballots during the preliminary election on Aug. 9. The total amount of the proposed referendum is $21.73 million, but it is being presented in the form of two questions. The first question totals $17.96 million and the second question amounts to $3.77 million.

The projects included in the second question are contingent on the voters approving the first question.

While the referendum would provide funding for some new space, such as expanding the band room, a lot of the projects include replacing or updating old features and infrastructure.

“It’s needed,” Superintendent Jeremy Frie said. “It’s not a lot of frivolous stuff. It’s kind of the stuff you’d do if you were living in a 25-year-old house.”

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The district has set up a website chock-full of information related to the proposed projects ; what they are, why they’re needed, how they decided what to tackle, and so on.

If approved, the referendum would pay for some space additions and reconfigurations. It would add two new classrooms, expand the early childhood playground, create a STEM lab, convert locker rooms into adaptive physical education space, as well as update the career and technical education spaces.

“The other part that’s long overdue and something that we can’t do with just an annual budget is the upgrading of our (career and technical education) wing,” School Board Chairman Ron Pagel said. “A lot of those spaces are from part of the original building back when I went to school. And if you look at what the economy needs, they need workers.”

But, the referendum also would pay for a lot of maintenance items. It would upgrade HVAC systems, replace leaky windows, and transition buildings to LED lighting.

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Pagel said that although they have addressed maintenance issues as they’ve come up, the board realized there would be some efficiencies in clumping some of them together.

“We’ve addressed things as we could going along, but sometimes it’s just a way bigger project than we could fund with just our long term facility maintenance funds,” Pagel said. “As a board, we had a pretty lengthy discussion about three years ago and decided rather than doing this on a piecemeal basis, let’s put these things together into one big project.”

The third category of projects the referendum would pay for is that of security and safety. Among other features, it would include the building of a new front office at the middle school/high school "with enhanced entrance security."

According to the district, if voters approved both questions, it would equate to an increase of $9.08 per month for a home valued at $245,000.

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The communities of Dover and Eyota are both located on U.S. Highway 14, directly east of Rochester. Together, the district has a student population of 1,080.

Dover-Eyota isn’t the only school district in the area that is either trying to pass a referendum or recently did. Stewartville Public Schools is asking its residents to approve a referendum of nearly $38 million; In 2021, Byron voters approved a referendum of $44.5 million. And in 2019, Rochester residents approved more than a $180 million in referendum funding for widescale construction and remodels throughout the district.

Related Topics: EDUCATIONDOVER-EYOTA
Jordan Shearer covers K-12 education for the Post Bulletin. A Rochester native, he graduated from Bemidji State University in 2013 before heading out to write for a small newsroom in the boonies of western Nebraska. Bringing things full circle, he returned to Rochester in 2020 just shy of a decade after leaving. Readers can reach Jordan at 507-285-7710 or jshearer@postbulletin.com.
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