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MACCRAY board to discuss what's next after $20M bond rejected for single elementary

CLARA CITY – Voters in the MACCRAY School District rejected a $20 million bond issue Tuesday for a new elementary school and an auditorium/theater in Clara City by a tally of 1,067 against the measure to 733 in favor, according to unofficial results presented to school board members.

Frigid temperatures and icy roads did not keep voters from the polls for the hotly contested issue, with 1,800 total votes. A “good turnout,’’ said board chairman Lane Schwitters as the numbers were presented.

Schwitters reported the results as the numbers were placed on a screen before school board members and a small gathering of both supporters and opponents in the high school office in Clara City. “I don’t have a whole lot more to say than that,’’ he said after announcing the bond issue had been rejected. He said board members would discuss where to go from here at their next meeting.

The issue had divided the district, and the vote showed it. Voters in the original Raymond and Maynard districts rejected the proposal, while those in the original Clara City district supported it. The districts have been combined officially since 1994, after elections were conducted in September 1993 and May 1994, according to Tribune archives.

The unofficial numbers Tuesday showed MACCRAY East voters in the Raymond area against the measure by a 464 to 50 count. MACCRAY West voters in the Maynard area opposed it by 361 to 132 count.

MACCRAY voters in Clara City favored it by a 479 to 165 total.

There were also 72 “yes” and 77 “no” absentee ballots cast.

Overall, the numbers show 59 percent voting against the bond issue, compared to 41 percent voting yes.

The MACCRAY School Board had proposed the bond issue to build an elementary school attached to the high school in Clara City, along with an auditorium and theater. The measure included funding to help the Raymond and Maynard communities find new uses for the elementary school buildings, which would be closed with the building of a new, single elementary school.

School board members said the district could not afford to continue operating three separate schools. The district would realize an estimated $300,000 in annual savings by operating one, unified elementary school in place of the two buildings in Raymond and Maynard.

Opponents of the proposal said that financing costs would negate any operational savings, and that an investment in the existing buildings would improve efficiencies.

School board members had said they did not favor making improvements to the elementary school buildings due to their age.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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