School bond goes before Fort Madison voters a third time

Century-old buildings are causing problems for elementary school teachers in Fort Madison.

The district is going back to the polls for the third time to ask voters to approve a bond issue and build a new school.

Lincoln and Richardson Elementary are 100-year-old buildings.

Teachers said there are constant struggles with heating and cooling, and small learning spaces that do more harm than good.

“We are talking the generation that is going to take care of us in the future and I really feel like we can be providing them more,” Principal Emily Settles said.

The school district wants to change that by building a new school next to the middle school and create a learning campus.

Voters in the school district need to approve the $30-million bond first.

“We would have Pre-K through 8th grade all in one campus, so we can do a lot of exchanging of learning opportunities and increase operations in safety and security but for operating costs,” Superintendent Erin Slater said.

At Richardson, Principal Emily Settles said school safety is a big issue with the main office on the second floor.

“Anyone can buzz in the building and they can walk halfway through the building and have access to classrooms,” Settles said.

Neither school is ADA accessible and classes are often canceled when it’s hot out.

“There’s no air conditioning,” Tracy King, Lincoln Elementary principal said. “The kids and the whole district has to let out when it’s too hot in the elementary because of the bus situation.”

Technology upgrades become a challenge too. Wires and routers on the walls and they cause problems.

“We can only get so much internet usage before things start to shut down on us,” King said.

Slater said athletic improvements to the baseball and softball fields at the high school are tacked on to the bond issue.

She thinks voters may be turned off by it, but she wants them to know that it could pave the way for more growth.

“It really is a multifaceted bond,” Slater said. “It really allows us to get over the first hurdle in order to do continued improvement projects in the district.”

Slater says if this doesn’t pass, there is no Plan B.

The school board would have to go back to the drawing board and start all over again.

Voters head to the polls on Tuesday, April 3.

Polls are open from noon to 8 p.m. in Fort Madison.

Early voting started Monday, March 5.

Registration at the North Lee County Office Building and request ballot by mail end on March 23.

Jim Roberts

Jim Roberts

Jim Roberts is the Social Media & Digital Content Manager at WGEM.

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