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USC voters say yes to school

By Staff | Aug 19, 2012

Voters line up in Wells to cast their ballots by feeding them into a scanning machine, above. Over 2,500 voters, or 83 percent of registered voters, went to the polls in the USC district.

Supporters of a new school for United South Central School District spent the night monitoring votes being tallied at the courthouses in Faribault and Freeborn counties.

They weren’t disappointed with Tuesday’s election results of a $28.825 million bond referendum.

Unofficial totals show 1,687 voting in favor, while 1,259 were against.

“It’s a statement on the part of residents in the district that they believe in the future of our kids and their communities,” says Superintendent Jerry Jensen.

“Starting today there’s a real infusion of energy in our district and communities to pull together and unite for our students,” he adds.

School Board chairwoman Kathy Kresbach says one of the top priorities in the district’s Strategic Plan was to address deficient and deteriorating school buildings.

“I stayed up late, anxiously waiting for the results. I just want to thank those who got informed and went out and voted,” she says. “This is a huge project that is going to take a lot of effort by everyone to get it done.”

Turnout for the referendum was high.

Of the district’s 3,053 registered voters, 2,530 or nearly 83 percent went to the polls.

In Faribault County, 1,509 voted “yes,” while 1,021 cast a “no” vote.

The referendum was defeated in Freeborn County with 238 against and 173 for, while Waseca County’s five votes were in favor.

Despite nine of the 16precincts in Faribault County voting against the referendum, the two-month “vote yes” campaign of USC – Believe in the Future! paid off.

In the largest precinct of Wells the winning margin was 859 to 249.

Marcus Eytcheson, a member of the committee, says Tuesday’s outcome restores faith in the district’s communities commitment to education.

“Those who voted for a new school did so for many reasons, but in the end it was for the kids,” he says.

This is the fourth time in the past decade district officials have tried to pass such a referendum.

The School Board decided to build a school instead of spending nearly $20 million to upgrade buildings averaging more than 50 years old.

“Some of us were embarrassed by our current buildings. Now, we will no longer be the door mat,” Eytcheson says.

The new one-level facility will be 155,000 square feet with a capacity for 750 students in grades pre-K to 12. It will be built on 63 acres located south of Wells on the west side of Highway 22 behind Weber Construction.

Jensen says there will be “an aggressive schedule” to try and get construction under way by next spring. He says hopefully the new school will be ready by the fall of 2014.

Passage of the referendum also brings a $100,000 donation to the district.

Bevcomm, a Blue Earthbased Internet and telecommunications company, pledged the funds which will be used for technology upgrades.

School Board members will be canvassing the results on Tuesday to make the results official.