By Andrea Hay firstname.lastname@example.org
A $13.9 million school bond for Adams Central has failed after a mail-in ballot vote, counted on Tuesday evening. The results showed that 2015 patrons voted: 44 percent were in favor and more than 55 percent were opposed to building a single-site elementary school, which would have meant closing five rural area elementary schools.
The single-site elementary school would have been located on the Adams Central Middle/High School property.
Ayr and Tri-View Elementary Schools are being forced to close, regardless of the county vote.
Roger Kort of the school board and his children all attended Ayr Elementary over the years, but said his small town in rural Nebraska is just one of many that will have to change with the times, because the population is too low to maintain it.
"This is inevitable, and this would be a good solution for the district as a whole," Kort told NTV before learning the results of the vote.
Adam's County residents will see an immediate property tax increase of four cents per $100 of valuation, "and that change could be indefinite," said Gail Jones of Juniata, who was advocating for the single-site elementary. This money will close the schools of Ayr and Tri-View, and provide upgrades for the other schools needing assistance.
Some concerned parents told NTV News they were not in favor of losing their small, rural schools. "Consistently, I am hearing among parents that they agree TriView and 15 need a new school, but leave Wallace and Juniata alone," a viewer wrote to NTV. "Many of the Adams Central patrons live where they do to avoid a large school atmosphere."
School board members say they are aware not all parents were on-board with the single-site idea. "We aren't pushing for the bond necessarily," said school board member Roger Krabel. "Against it, a lot of folks prefer the smaller, more regional schools, they just don't like the feel of having so many student on campus. They like to keep, like, Juniata, likes to keep their community school. So against the proposal, I've heard a lot of that."
Krabel said that now that the bond has failed, the school will not be able to accommodate buses to go to the three elementary schools; while, with a single site, busing was an option, financially.
Bus services are one reason that many parents NTV spoke with said they voted for the single-unit school. "I voted for the one site," said parent Jason Gernstein. "I just want all the kids in one location. I think it's the most efficient way of learning."
Gernstein is the father of a child at Tri-View Elementary School, which will close. He said his concern is school crowding.
"I know if [my son] doesn't go here, he'll probably go over to 15, and it looks to me like it's crowded already over there and it looks like it's going to get worse if we send the kids from [Riverdale] to [District 15]," Gernstein said. "They might have to bring in some modules. That just doesn't make a lot of sense to me."
Of the 2015 votes in Adams County (those inside Hastings city limits could not vote on the issue): 888 voters said YES to the bond, while 1,126 voted NO.