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Newton District Looking To Remodel High School, Add Elementary

Newton Public Schools, Facebook
Newton High School's pool has structural issues stemming from years of water and rust.

The Newton School District is asking voters to approve an $86 million bond proposal for high school upgrades and a new elementary school.

The bond issue is split into two ballot questions for the district’s special election.

The first question involves upgrades to Newton High School and safety and security projects at all schools. The projects total about $61 million.

The district wants to add a new science wing and a gym that would double as a storm shelter at Newton High.

“Currently, there is not a tornado shelter," Newton Superintendent Deb Hamm explains in a video posted to the district's Facebook page. "So we are excited to be able to provide that safety space for our students."

Hamm says the high school is showing its age, so classrooms need updates too. She says much of the work would be in the school’s original footprint.

“All of the areas that are 1973 will get renovated and remodeled,” Hamm says.

The second question is for a new elementary school to be built south of Newton at a cost of about $24 million.

“Students from kindergarten through sixth grade would attend there,” Hamm says. “That alleviates the overcrowding issue at Santa Fe [5/6 Center], and actually provides for some additional classroom space, so some room for growth.”

If the new elementary school is approved, Walton Rural Life Elementary will close, and the Rural Life Center would continue in the new school. About 34 students attended Walton last year.

Hamm says the district has a back-up plan for adding classroom space at Santa Fe should voters reject the new elementary.

If bond question number one passes, property tax will increase about $85 a year for the average homeowner.

If bond question number two passes, property tax will go up an additional $40 a year. Estimates are based on the value of a $100,000 home.

Voting for the special election is by mail only. Ballots need to be returned by Sept. 3.

About 3,500 students are enrolled in Newton USD 373.

Follow Deborah Shaar on Twitter @deborahshaar. To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.