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CERRO GORDO – Voters will be asked to approve a 49 cent property tax increase to pay for an addition and other improvements to the Cerro Gordo Junior-Senior High School.

During a special meeting Wednesday evening, the school board voted 6-0 to place a referendum on the April 4 ballot allowing the sale of $8 million in bonds toward the cost of connecting the two parts of the school with 18,500 square feet of new space.

The addition would encompass a central entrance, provide a new home for the school library and house a new gym for the junior high while an old one dating back to 1929 would be turned into a multipurpose auditorium.

The tax increase of 49 cents per $100 in equalized assessed valuation would amount to an extra $134 annually on a $100,000 home.

The school board’s vote was preceded by no discussion and no public comment, virtually all of the hourlong meeting taken up by a review of the process that led up to this point.

Board President Todd Henricks shook his head and expressed amazement that no one had signed up to address the board about such an important project.

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Public participation at earlier community meetings was strong, however.

The first on Nov. 21 attracted about 45 people, whose input led the building facilities committee to boost the project’s overall cost from $7.8 million to $8.2 million, in part, by putting a gym in the addition instead of a new auditorium.

The second on Dec. 14 drew about 60, who said what they liked best about the plan was the better security it provides and that they wished the project could include even more upgrades.

“We actually took a little mock vote, and 93 percent said they would vote for this proposal,” said Dawn Mann, a math teacher and member of the building committee.

Superintendent Brett Robinson said the school district would be calling on some of those attendees to pitch in and help get the bond measure passed.

“If we want our community to continue to thrive and grow,” said board member Angela Miller, “it’s time to do something with these buildings.”

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