NEWMAN GROVE, NE — The enrollment of Newman Grove Elementary is growing, but so is the age of the school.
The building constructed in 1930 has a laundry list of problems with it and that’s the driving force behind a bond issue in front of voters one week from today.
“That building has reached its useful life,” Superintendent Mikal Shalikow said. “So the board started looking at options of what to do with that building.”
Shalikow says there are convenience and safety problems with the building. The three-story elementary school has just one boys and girls bathroom, it has no fire supression system and some questionable fire escapes.
Maybe the biggest problem, though, is the walk. Kids sometimes have to cross highway 45 as much as four times a day to get to the cafeteria, gym or music room in the junior/senior high.
“So the goal was to get everything on one side of the highway so we don’t have the elementary kids crossing the highway,” Shalikow said.
Shalikow says his staff estimated the time it takes to bundle kids up and help them cross the street could add up to eight days worth of missed instruction time.
“The challenges of performing on state assessments, those sorts of things, losing those eight days – that’s a lot of instructional time where my teachers don’t get to see kids,” Shalikow said.
The District is asking for a $12.5 million bond to demolish the existing shop to make room for an elementary addition to the existing junior/senior high. They also want to shift the elementary building to a daycare and early childhood center and build a vocational ag building across the street.
Shalikow understands local farmers will take the brunt of the expected seven cent levy increase if the bond passes.
“Of course our farmers are concerned about spending $12.5 million,” Shalikow said. “Is it necessary, do we have to have it? Through all our research, this is something we believe we have to have in order to provide the best education for our kids.”
Madison County Election Commissioner Nancy Scheer says the mail-in ballots can be handed in to the dropbox outside the Madison County Courthouse up until 5:00 PM on Tuesday.