Bond vote for MFL MarMac facilities improvement project is March 3

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This architectural rendering shows what the exterior of the proposed fieldhouse would look like.

This image shows improvements to the circle drive and entrance at the elementary school.

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

Voters in the MFL MarMac Community School District will head to the polls on Tuesday, March 3, to decide if $7.8 million in general obligation bonds should be issued to fund an extensive facilities improvement project.

The largest addition will be a 31,000-square-foot fieldhouse on the west side of the high school building in Monona, which will encase two full-sized basketball courts that can be converted to one competition-sized gym to host tournaments. Indoor bleachers will seat up to 1,200 people.

The complex will also include an entrance with commons area, locker rooms, a training room, concession stand that could serve patrons at both indoor and outdoor events and a four-lane walking/running track that will be accessible to the public. People would be able to enter the space from either the north or south parking lots.

“The fieldhouse will have multiple uses, both athletic and academic,” said MFL MarMac Superintendent Dale Crozier, who spoke about the facilities improvements at a series of public meetings over the past week. That includes not just sporting events, but physical education classes, recess, graduation and other programs.

Outside, the school has the option to add new outdoor bleachers on the east side of the football field and create a second floor press box.

The second major part of the facilities project is an addition to the elementary school. On the west side of the building, there will be new and larger restrooms with hand washing units outside the bathrooms for improved supervision. 

On the east side, the school’s circle drive and entrance will be improved. The entrance will include a secretary’s office with better visual control and high impact tinted glass. A principal’s office and conference rooms will also be added. The old secretary and principal’s office will be eliminated, creating a large commons area that can be used throughout the day for reading groups, technology instruction, meetings and more.

Lastly, the project will include miscellaneous improvements at the McGregor Center. Crozier said the work will be the latest in a string of projects the district has completed to update the building, such as replacing the boiler, roof, windows and electrical; painting the exterior and tuck pointing the brick; and putting new lights, ceiling fans and bleachers in the gym.

“We’ve remodeled classrooms as needed,” said Crozier, and facilitated library and music room updates.

The McGregor Center isn’t a larger part of this project, he explained, because there isn’t a lot more to do. The plans don’t signal any future intent for the building.

“We can’t close the McGregor Center unless enrollment drops 200 kids,” Crozier said.

The requested $7.8 million is projected to pay for the entire facilities improvement project. At $5.9 million, fieldhouse construction takes up the largest share of that. The elementary addition accounts for $525,000, while McGregor Center improvements would total an estimated $200,000. 

When spread throughout the district over time, Crozier said this will cost approximately $88 per $100,000 of assessed property value for residential and approximately $121 per 100 acres of average cropland.

These amounts may vary slightly depending on assessments and values a year from now, he added. The district also plans to reduce levies in other areas, lessening the total.

“It sounds like a lot,” Crozier said, but $7.8 million is significantly less than the $28 million it would take to build a new high school or $50 million to build an entire campus.

Luckily, he shared, the district has maintained its infrastructure well, making those larger-scale projects unnecessary.

“We wouldn’t build a new gym if we needed to replace the roof,” he stated.

The bond measure will need at least 60 percent approval from voters to pass. If it does, the project will be bonded for 20 years, the same as when the auditorium was built at the high school in 2013.

If the measure doesn’t pass, Crozier indicated the district would still plan to move forward with the project, but by utilizing other, less-desirable funding options.

The school board, which has unanimously endorsed the facilities improvements, claims the project is not solely about sports, but rather economic development—attracting new people to the district and increasing enrollment.

“They believe this is the best decision in light of what students need,” Crozier said.

When and where to vote

MFL MarMac’s bond vote will take place on Tuesday, March 3. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

All qualified voters of the MFL MarMac Community School District residing in the townships of Farmersburg, Wagner, Giard, Grand Meadow and Monona, as well as the cities of Farmersburg, Luana and Monona, will vote at the Monona Community Center, 104 S. Egbert St.

All qualified voters of the MFL MarMac Community School District residing in the townships of Mendon and Clayton and the cities of Marquette and McGregor will vote at the Marquette Community Center, 102 North St.

All qualified voters of the MFL MarMac Community School District residing in Allamakee County will vote at Memorial Hall, 119 E. Greene St., Postville.

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