Rockridge School District's Referendum Fails - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Rockridge School District's Referendum Fails

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Rockridge School District had a lot riding on last night's Primary Election. They had a separate building referendum that failed to pass, 63% said no.

School officials said they would have consolidated all three elementary schools into a single centralized one, saving nearly $375,000 a year.

Those options are off the table now and they're looking to what has to happen next.

"We have to move forward, have to figure how we can keep the district in good financial shape," said Rock Ridge School District Superintendent Dr. Chester Lien. 

Both of the referendums they were hoping for didn't go through, including a 1% sales tax increase for Rock Island County that would have been used for all school districts in the county. 

Dr. Lien said a lot of work still needs to get done.

"The Board of Education for Rockridge School District has some very tough decision facing them over the next couple of months," said Dr. Lien. "We know that a 10 year life safety study, we're getting ready to go into a new cycle."

Those life-safety issues are things that he said aren't options. No matter what, they will have to spend anywhere from $4 million to $9 million on security and building maintenance improvements. 

They will have to sell bonds to do this as well, it's just a matter of when.

Now he's asking for those who said "no" on their ballots for help.

"They were presented with a solution, they rejected them," said Dr. Lien. "I understand that and I respect their decision. The district some input from some of those people now. Where do we go for the future for Rockridge?"

Dr. Lien said they're already deficit spending and there isn't much more room to make cuts in the budget. 

One Port Bryon man who is a part of a group of citizens who opposed the tax increases said he has a suggestion.

"The whole state of Iowa does not have township government," said Lawrence Bay. "They do not have the layers of bureaucracy that Rock Island County has in their school system. The only have 5 county board members whereas in Rock Island County we need 25."

Bay said streamlining and making Illinois government more efficient would free up money for schools without raising taxes.

In the Rock Island-Milan School District, they were hopeful for the 1% sales tax as well. They had just written a 10 year facility plan they may have to reconsider now.

Other districts were looking to upgrade their school buildings, some wanting to add central air conditioning. 


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