After a pair of failed building referendums in 2017, the Edgewood-Colesburg School District is asking voters to support a referendum that will offer improvements to both district buildings as well as add new spaces that can help sustain the district for decades to come.

We encourage a “yes” vote on the referendums Tuesday, Nov. 2.

The referendum will ask voters to approve two questions:

Question No. 1 asks voters to “allow the Board of Education to issue $12,050,000 in General Obligation Bonds to provide the funds necessary to move forward with the identified projects.”

Question No. 2 asks voters to “approve an increase in the tax levy above $2.70, but not more than $4.05, per every $100,000 of assessed property value within the district boundaries.”

If approved, the district will add upgrades to mechanical and HVAC systems at the elementary school in Colesburg, including a new boiler as well as ventilation and air conditioning systems that will not only keep the building cool in hot weather, but will also eliminate humidity and noise in classrooms from the current system. In Edgewood, plans call for a new career and technical education space, new competition gymnasium, improved accessibility throughout the junior-senior high, improved student and traffic safety and new secured entrances.

The proposed career and technical education space in Edgewood was not part of either 2017 referendum and is an exciting possibility for the district. With the increased need for skilled workers in many trades that offer good wages and benefits, we believe the new space can help students refine their talents, along with helping solve area workforce shortages, helping to keep young families in the area. The existing building where FFA and shop classes are held, known simply as “the shop,” is over 50 years old and is antiquated for the needs of the area’s future workforce.

A new competition gymnasium is long overdue in the district as gyms in Edgewood and Colesburg were built in the early 1950s. Neither gym meets the regulation length and width of courts today. Seating space is limited in both gyms, which in turn, keeps Ed-Co from hosting as many conference tournaments and post-season tournaments as they might otherwise.

The Edgewood location has long dealt with safety issues when it comes to traffic flow and picking up and dropping off students from buses. This new plan addresses that, as well as improves accessibility to the entire building.

The $12,050,000 asking price is more than either referendum in 2017, but we feel the district is getting far more for their money than in the previous referendums. A “Yes” vote will approve an increase in the tax levy above $2.70, but not more than $4.05 per $100,000 of assessed value. The district will use a mix of income surtax and property taxes to reduce the burden on property owners, vowing to keep the overall district tax levy rate below the 20-year average in the district.

With this levy, the average increase on a home with an assessed value of $100,000 would be $103 per year ($8.59 per month), while agricultural ground will have an impact of $2.06 per acre in Clayton County and $2.39 in Delaware County.

Ed-Co last passed a bond referendum in 2003. Since then, every district surrounding it has passed measures to improve their districts, keeping them attractive and viable for the next generation of students.

We are also encouraged this time as all five members of the Ed-Co School Board are supporting this referendum, something that didn’t happen in the 2017 referendums. We believe they have the best interest of the district going forward and have made a strong case for support in this project.

In a video explaining the referendum, board member Bob Schilling (who is not seeking reelection this fall), spoke in favor of the project, saying, “This bond is for things that we truly need to make our school better, not just to keep it running.”

We agree with Schilling and urge voters to support the project Tuesday, Nov. 2.

— The “Our Opinion” column is the consensus of the editorial board. For information or comments, contact a member of the board: Beth Lutgen, Denise Brady or Mike Putz