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84% of voters approve extra $5.5M for Chamberlain School District elementary school project

Overwhelming majority votes to expand budget after district tried scaling back its plans multiple times but found building costs too high to overcome.

The new Chamberlain elementary school plan. Photo courtesy of Justin Zajic.
The new Chamberlain elementary school plan. Photo courtesy of Justin Zajic.
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CHAMBERLAIN — Voters decided Tuesday, Sept. 13 to expand the current budget for the new Chamberlain School District school project, approving an extra $5.5 million for construction costs.

84% of voters approved the expansion, with 16% voting against it.

After Tuesday's meeting, Chamberlain Superintendent Justin Zajic said he was feeling "absolutely elated" over the public voicing its approval for the budget expansion.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled,” Zajic said. “A lot of work has gone into this.”

The Chamberlain School District recently developed a new elementary school plan that would replace the current building. Along with the new elementary building, a new gymnasium, locker rooms, coaches office, concession stand and a track and field and theater upgrade were part of the original construction plans.

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The whole project was to be funded using a combination of an issuance of capital outlay certificates, federal COVID-19 relief dollars and other district funds.

New structure will replace current school built in the early 1960s

Recent construction cost increases pushed up the project cost, and now the district finds itself looking at a price tag closer to $34.9 million instead of the $28 million it had originally planned. The district tried scaling back its plans multiple times, but found building costs too high to overcome.

The district initially thought it could cover the entire cost of the project without seeking a bond issue at the polls. But after years of study and financial planning, the district asked voters to approve a bond issue for up to $5.5 million to help cover the increased costs. Like all bond issues of this type, it required a 60% approval at the polls.

On the overwhelming support from the community, Zajic said, “Chamberlain is extremely supportive and that really showed tonight.”

Zajic said that the district is not concerned about running into any more budgeting concerns and is confident that the project will to run smoothly from here on out.

The bond secures the construction plans of a 1,500 seat, competitive gym, as well as a theater and track.

Construction on the main section of the elementary school is currently underway, with a groundbreaking ceremony held last week.

Related Topics: CHAMBERLAIN
Cassie Williams joined the Mitchell Republic in July of 2022. To get in contact with Cassie about potential stories, feel free to email her at cwilliams@mitchellrepublic.com.
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