Voters in the Johnston school district gave overwhelming approval Tuesday to a $41 million bond referendum that will construct a new high school and renovate other buildings.
The measure requires approval by 60 percent of voters in order to pass; the measure received 66 percent approval to 34 percent no votes. According to unofficial vote totals from the Polk County Election Office, the measure received 3,599 yes votes to 1,852 votes against.
"We are thrilled as a community to be supporting the kids and the school district," said district parent Patrice Davis, a member of Citizens for Quality Johnston Schools, which worked to pass the measure. "I was a little nervous earlier today, but from the results I couldn't happier."
The money will pay for construction of a new 10-12 high school just west of 100th Street and north of 62nd Avenue in Johnston.
The Polk County Election Office says that 1,428 voters cast early or absentee ballots as of June 18. Turnout was heavy as residents left work and voted on their way home tonight.
According to the Citizens for Quality Johnston Schools Facebook page, which worked to pass the measure, more than 5,000 people had voted including the early votes as of 6:30 p.m. That means Tuesday's election turnout will surpass last September's turnout of 4,800.
The school district tweeted this reaction after votes were in from all 10 precincts: "Thank you, voters! The Johnston schools bond referendum has passed! Watch for official numbers tomorrow."
The district will also take on three other renovation projects in conjunction with construction of the high school. Through existing sales tax revenue and physical plant and equipment levy money, the plan calls for:
Minor renovation to Johnston High School to become the new Johnston Middle School, housing grades eight and nine
Renovation to Johnston Middle School to become the new Wallace Elementary and a district-wide preschool
Renovation to Wallace Elementary to house district administration offices and programming, such as community education
A similar measure came before voters in September 2012 and was defeated by less than 5 percent. Since September, the district has gathered community feedback and revised the design and cost of the proposed high school, as well as increased communication efforts to educate voters on details of the facilities plan.
"We are pleased our hard work paid off, the community pulled together to get the passage of this bond," said Jacqueline Kiple, also a member of Citizens for Quality Johnston Schools. "We are pleased with the community's support."
Joe Ledesma with Citizens for Quality Johnston Schools said, "There is so much excitement to happen in the future of the community. We are just excited that Johnston will be a strong community from here forward. I am personally gratified because I was so disappointed with the non-passing of the first vote. The fact we, as a community, got together to get this passed, I couldn't be more happier with my community. I've got so many texts and replies saying congrats from so many parents that are thankful to finally get our school level to the quality that is expected of Johnston."
Other Stories on this Topic:Live Updates From Johnston Polling Sites; Lines Form as People Leave Work