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Benson, KMS approve school funding measures

Kathy Vogelpohl, of Murdock, brought her grandson, Logan Hight, to vote Tuesday at the Sunburg Community Center. Vogelpohl and other residents of the KMS School District were voting on questions relating to bonding for improvements and additions to school buildings. Tribune photo by Gary Miller

School funding questions in the Benson and in the Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg school districts were approved by voters in Tuesday’s election.

In Benson, voters agreed to repeal an existing operating levy and replace it with a larger one for the next four years. The question passed with 56 percent of the vote, 653 to 520 votes.

Superintendent Dennis Laumeyer said the voter turnout was about average for elections in Benson.

Benson schools will be repealing a levy of $720 per pupil unit and replacing it with a levy of $1,200 per pupil unit for the next four years.

Laumeyer said the additional funding, about $432,000 a year, “will be used to maintain as many offerings as we can.”

The district is dealing with declining enrollment, which causes cuts in state aid revenue. The district projects a loss of 90 students in the next five years.

In KMS, voters approved two bond questions for a total of $10.74 million. They had a 62 percent turnout.

The first question passed with 75 percent of the vote, 664 to 219 votes. The first question approves the issuance of $9.5 million in bonds to pay for improvements at the district’s two school buildings, a high school in Kerkhoven and an elementary school in Murdock.

The second question was approved with 62 percent of the voters voting in favor of it. The vote was 543 to 336. That question approves spending $1.26 million to build a new gym at the high school.

In all cases, the elections returns are unofficial until they are officially canvassed by the districts’ school boards.

The KMS bonding will pay for multiple improvements in the district.

At the high school, proposals include additions for early childhood classrooms, career and technical programs and a multipurpose space.

Remodeling will include a new secure building entrance, technical education areas, expansion of the auxiliary gym and the high school office. Also included in the project would be parking and roof projects.

At the elementary school, classroom, media center and office additions will be built. Classrooms will be remodeled, and ventilation system will be updated. Parking, paving and window replacements are planned.

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

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