Bond Issue Battle

Millard keeps growing, the schools are feeling the squeeze of expanding enrollment and taxpayers are being presented with a $78-million bond issue that's generating debate.

The school district wants the money to fund construction of three new schools, pay for additions to five existing ones and funnel $20-million into improvements in technology.

For the average homeowner in the Millard School District, the bond issue would add approximately $50 to their annual property tax bill.

Wheeler Elementary is exceeding capacity by 150 students. Portable rooms and, at times, even hallways are used as classrooms.

Wheeler Principal Andy Defreece says, "As you start getting higher with class sizes you get less direct interaction with the teacher."

The new Reading Elementary School will open next year at capacity and district spokesperson Amy Friedman says, "By the time the year's over, you'll see portables outside of the school simply because it won't be able to handle all the students."

With most of the bond money earmarked for the growing western side of the district some residents in the east are questioning the call for more cash.

Paul Meyer, with Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom says, "As far as I'm concerned, they really aren't concerned about saving taxpayers money."

Meyer is a member of the "No More Taxes" campaign and he says his organization has shown the district more than 100 ways to save money and reduce the size of the bond issue.

He says, "I think they could get by with a $10-million bond."

Voters have less than a month to decide what they think. The vote is set for Tuesday, February 15th.

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