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Voters approve Bureau Valley building bond referendum

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Celebrating the passage of the Bureau Valley School District referendum at an election party Tuesday evening are (from left) Kristy Cady, principal at Bureau Valley North; Julie Decker-Platz, principal at Bureau Valley South Junior High; Eric Lawson, Bureau Valley superintendent; Jason Spang, high school principal; and Kristal LeRette, Bureau Valley South principal.[]

MANLIUS — The Bureau Valley School Board plans to move forward with the consolidation plans at the high school following the passage of the district's building referendum in Tuesday's election.

The board will issue $12 million in building bonds to add additions to the high school to house all junior high school students in the district, as well as third- through fifth-grade students from Bureau Valley South in Buda. Those students are currently using modular classrooms following the demolition of the towers at the elementary school.

The bonds will also be used to make HVAC improvements at the Wyanet Elementary School building and Bureau Valley North in Walnut. BV North will also get new bleachers installed in the gymnasium, and the former Manlius Elementary School building will be cleaned of asbestos and demolished.

Bureau County voters approved the referendum by a 1,078 to 957 margin. The school district also extends into two neighboring counties. Lee County voters said "no" to the referendum by a 59 to 8 margin. Whiteside County also voted against the referendum by a 9 to 1 margin.

Unofficial results for all three counties were 1,087 in favor of the proposition and 1,026 opposed.

Following the announcement that BV's referendum had passed, board president Don King said the real winners of the outcome were the kids and future generations to come.

"I hope in five or 10 years, we can look back and say we bettered the students at Bureau Valley that are there today and the ones coming in," he said.

King said he knew it would be a close race, but believed it was a "good plan with good people in place."

"When you have those things working for you, you are usually successful. I know it's close, but we gained a lot of momentum compared to a year ago," he said.

Last April, Bureau Valley's building referendum failed by a 78 percent to 22 percent margin. That referendum asked to issue $17 million in bonds to build a new school in Sheffield and make improvements/additions at Bureau Valley High School and at BV North in Walnut. The approval of the referendum would have also ultimately closed the elementary school in Wyanet.

King said this year's building plan provides options for future boards to look at further consolidation in the district, if they wish to do so.

"I believe the younger crowd also got us where we needed to be. The generation below me — that's what our board is made up of today. I believe they were the drivers this time. They have kids in the school and were invested, and I think that's where we are at today," he said.

"I hope Bureau Valley can come together and put the plan in place and we can shake hands with our neighbors and realize all we can do is improve where we're at today."

Superintendent Eric Lawson said he is excited for the opportunities the district will be able to provide for the students and the community moving forward.

"There was a lot of emotion and a lot of deep thought that went into this from the school perspective and the taxpayers, and we've been at this for 20-plus years through the consolidation. It was time to make a change, and the change is obviously for the benefit of the children," he said.

BV South Principal Kristal LeRette thanked the communities for the support they showed toward the district.

"By doing so, you helped the district maintain strong schools, strong, collaborative communities, and invested in a strong future for all of our students and families. We are stronger together," she said.

LeRette added this building plan enables the district to move forward with plans to fund projects such as safety/security improvements, heating/cooling/ventilation improvements, career/college education opportunities, and sports/clubs/activities enhancements in all the schools.

"Voter approval provided the district a unique opportunity to address facility needs, and gave our students what they deserved, more education opportunities and 21st-century learning experiences. With the passing of the referendum, all students and taxpayers were winners," she said.