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Survey gives St. Charles direction on future bond referendum

ST. CHARLES — The results are in for the St. Charles School Board.

The district surveyed residents about how they voted and why concerning the $18.23 million May 3 bond referendum that failed by a vote of 858-506. Of the 451 survey respondents, roughly 29 percent said they supported the $8 million expansion of the high school gymnasium.

That number tracks near the percentage that voted for the referendum, 37 percent.

"I would say that was probably the biggest thing," St. Charles Superintendent Mark Roubinek said about the gym expansion's effect on the vote. "It did not have support."

Of the five projects mentioned in the survey — the gym or activity center, expansion and renovation to the elementary school, renovation to the high school science classrooms, secure entrances at both buildings, and general maintenance or remodeling at district facilities — only the gym received less than 50 percent approval. Respondents could vote for more than one item on the survey.


Roubinek said he anecdotally heard several reasons for the failure of the bond referendum. Overall cost and tax impact were mentioned by several people, he said. In the survey 55 percent listed cost as a reason they did not support the referendum.

Among those who said it would impact their vote, twice as many said a potential 40 percent reduction for agricultural properties would help nudge them toward a yes vote. That remedy for farmers is part of the ongoing funding debate in St. Paul.

Most reasons voters nixed the bond in May, though, circle back to the gym expansion. Roubinek said he has been told the space being asked for was too much, and the gym was seen as more of a want than a need. "They've said it's kind of an extracurricular, so it's not a vital part of the education process," he said.

Roubinek said the board will have some time to decide whether or not to put a revised bond referendum on the November ballot. "It should be an interesting discussion Monday night," he said, referring to the next scheduled school board meeting. "There won't be any hard, fast decisions right away."

Other items of interest on the agenda for Monday's 6 p.m. meeting at the high school library include an update of summer construction, a report on the Whitewater Country Coalition's search for community support for its drug-free campaign — the coalition did not qualify for a Federal Drug Free Community Grant for 2017 — and a 10-cent price increase for school breakfasts and lunches.

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