Loyal Board not sure how it will use referendum money



In a Nov. 6 referendum, Loyal School District voters authorized the district to spend $158,000 on maintenance needs in the coming year, and then exceed the state revenue cap by $675,000 for the next four years. How that first-year maintenance money will be spent is now the subject of some debate.
Prior to the referendum -- which was approved on a 716-495 vote count -- the district Board of Education said it would use the $158,000 to address three maintenance projects viewed as the highest priorities on a longer list of needs -- replacement of the high school gym floor, removal of a wooden divider that hangs on the gym ceiling, and paving of the gravel parking lot east of the high school entrance. Several months before the vote, the Board had planned to ask for $280,000 in first-year maintenance money that could have addressed all three needs, but that amount was pared back to $158,000 when it was determined that was the maximum amount that could be requested without raising the property tax rate.
Now, with just the $158,000 in hand, and project cost estimates coming in higher than expected, the Board is facing a dilemma on how to proceed. The gymnasium floor replacement -- now identified as the biggest need -- alone will cost $215,000. The wooden divider removal, which District Administrator Cale Jackson said should be done before the floor is replaced to prevent possible damage to the new surface, would cost another $45,000. No firm cost has been received for the parking lot paving project because the work is difficult to assess in the winter months.

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