Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Local News

July 26, 2013

Voters to decide on GCS building project

GOSHEN — The wording has been approved. Now it’s heading to the voters.

Members of the Elkhart County Election Board Thursday approved the final language for a ballot question connected to the Goshen Community Schools Bond Referendum Special Election set for Nov. 5.

The question relates to the school corporation’s desire to undertake a $17.15 million construction project involving both Goshen Middle School and Goshen High School.

The Goshen school board voted in June to seek the referendum. Board members want to renovate the two schools to add space for the music programs, physical education programs and to consolidate the pools in both schools into one new pool at one of the schools.

GCS Superintendent Diane Woodworth said at the June school board meeting that the corporation is spending $200,000 yearly to maintain both pools. She said having just one modern facility would be less expensive to maintain.

The official wording of the referendum question is, “Shall Goshen Community Schools issue bonds or enter into a lease to finance the renovation of and construction of improvements to Goshen Middle School and Goshen High School, which includes site improvements, which is estimated to cost not more than $17,150,000 and is estimated to increase the property tax rate for debt service by a maximum of $0.1098 per $100 of assessed valuation over the 20-year life of the bonds?”

According to County Clerk Wendy Hudson, the Department of Local Government Finance has already been informed of the proposed language and has given its blessing for the election board to move forward.

“DLGF is good with it. They don’t recommend any changes,” Hudson said. “Ice Miller (law firm) has looked it over, and they say the language is good. Our county attorney also looked it over and verified that it does meet the statutory requirements.”

As for what’s next in the process, Hudson said she will contact the school corporation with the news of the language approval, after which the election board will begin preparations for the upcoming special election.

“I’m going to notify the school’s attorney that our meeting passed the language and that we will be proceeding with conducting their election for Nov. 5,” Hudson said. “From that point we’ll just get started. We’ll need to let the Secretary of State’s office know, so that they can help us with conducting the election in the statewide voter registration system. So we’ll be assigning polling places and moving forward.”

The special election will be Nov. 5. Voters in Elkhart precincts 1 to 21 will be eligible to vote on the question. Absentee ballots for the election will be mailed beginning Sept. 21 to people who have requested an absentee ballot. On Oct. 7 at 5 p.m. voter registration for the election will end. On Oct. 8 absentee voting in person will begin at locations yet to be determined.

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Three Goshen elementary schools — Chandler, Chamberlain and West Goshen — are providing free meals to all students during the school year as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Nearly 80 percent of students at Chandler, 89 percent of students at Chamberlain and 78 percent of students at West Goshen already qualify for free or reduced-price lunches based on their family income. How do you feel about the new lunch program?

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