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Mitchell School District advances $17 million bond to voters

South Dakota Department of Tourism

The Mitchell School Board voted unanimously to put a $17 million bond to a public vote. It’s a vote that could be the difference between the community building a new school or not.

The bond issue was addressed at the most recent Mitchell School Board meeting March 13.

Board president Deb Olson said the district first identified the need for more school space five years ago.

"We had thought we had accrued enough money that we would be able to build the new high school without a bond issue," Olson said. "Well, with the increasing construction costs, that did not come to pass. So, we have the ability to build the academic portion of the high school, but not the athletic portion.”

This particular bond issue must be put to a public vote as a result of the districts debt limit.

“We would potentially be able to do it without a bond issue, but that would mean – for example – if a boiler went out in one of the buildings, or there was some sort of mechanical problem, then the district would be short of the capital outlay funds to be able to replace that," Olson said. "We would not be comfortable with doing that.”

With the decision in the hands of the public, the thoughts of the school’s faculty could be consequential.

“The information that I’ve had, the public comments I’ve had have been very positive," Olson said. "They recognize the need for improved facilities. We had thirty staff, faculty, and community members, and from what I’ve heard as feedback from them, they’re very supportive of the bond issue passing.”

The vote will be held during Mitchell's next city election on June 6.

C.J. Keene is a Rapid City-based journalist covering the legal system, education, and culture