Bird Island, Lake Lillian and Olivia voters in BOLD School District reject $62.6 million bond referendum
Voters say no to bond referendum for new preK-12 facility, athletic and activities complex.
OLIVIA — Voters in the BOLD School District overwhelmingly rejected a $62.6 million bond in Tuesday’s referendum.
Unofficial vote tallies late Tuesday night showed voters rejected question one for $57.4 million in bonds to develop a preK-12 facility by a count of 366 “yes” to 1,549 “no.”
Voters likewise nixed question two by a 185 "yes" to 1,614 "no" vote. Question two asked for $5.2 million in bonds to develop an athletic and activities complex including a new football field, eight-lane track, and equipment storage building for high school sports.
“While the outcome of the referendum is disappointing, we appreciate our residents giving this proposal their full consideration,” said Superintendent Dale Brandsoy in a news release announcing the results. “Our talented teachers and staff will continue to provide students with a quality education as we explore ways to improve our school facilities.”
The superintendent said school board members will come back together to see how to move forward. The bonding was sought to address what were termed the chronic infrastructure challenges of the aging facilities in the district that serves the communities of Bird Island, Lake Lillian and Olivia.
The BOLD School Board had sought approval to build a 149,000-square-foot school with a 500-seat auditorium on the campus of the Olivia Hospital and Clinic. The Olivia Hospital and Clinic has offered to build a wellness center at the site for shared use.
Project supporters pointed to historic-low interest rates and the Ag2School tax credit that would have paid for roughly one-half of the project costs.
The project faced opposition from a citizens group that included more than 230 people who signed a public statement urging a “no” vote. Opponents said they agree the district needs to do something, but said they did not feel there was sufficient information about this project. They argued that the district should take a new look at its facilities options and consider working with the neighboring Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart School District.
The project also faced opposition in the Bird Island community, where the district elementary school facilities were closed a year ago due to mold issues. A citizens group in Bird Island is working with the city’s economic development agency in hopes of repurposing a portion of the old school facility there.