The Journal Gazette
Monday, February 04, 2019 2:50 pm

Voters will see DeKalb Central referendum in May

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

A watchdog group has forced DeKalb County Central United School District to put a $37.6 million facility improvement plan in voters' hands this spring.

Late last month, county auditors for Steuben and DeKalb counties certified the language directing the county election boards to prepare the referendum question for the May 7 ballot, the district announced in a news release Saturday.

The proposed renovations and facilities upgrades address Watson Elementary, DeKalb Middle and DeKalb High schools. The project is estimated to increase the property tax rate for debt service by a maximum 33.9 cents.

The district plans to have a tax calculator on its website so property owners can see how they will be affected. Officials anticipate most property owners – more than 90 percent – won't notice an impact on their school tax rate because they fall below the tax cap, the district said.

"By being good stewards of our tax dollars, the district has positioned itself well financially to be able to complete this project while maintaining a neutral debt service tax rate," Chief Financial Officer Steve Snider said in a statement.

The school board unanimously voted in May to proceed with the project, but Concerned Citizens of DeKalb County collected enough signatures in a petition campaign so residents could vote on the matter.

At that time, the watchdog group said the district's spending plan deserved a wider public debate and the opportunity for taxpayers to have a say in making the decision.

The proposed enhancements include a new, larger cafeteria and kitchen at the elementary school; installation of lighting, flooring and wall finishes at the middle school; a boiler replacement at the high school; upgrades to athletics facilities; and security improvements.

"We are committed to the students and families of DeKalb Central Schools and are determined to continue providing a high quality educational experience in every aspect of a student’s education," Superintendent Steve Teders said in a statement. "This project is proof of the district's commitment to the future of our community."

Those with questions about the referendum may contact Teders at or 920-1011.

Referendum question

"Shall DeKalb County Central United School District issue bonds or enter into a lease to finance the renovation of and improvements to James R. Watson Elementary School, DeKalb High School, and DeKalb Middle School, including site improvements, which is estimated to cost not more than $37,600,000 and is estimated to increase the property tax rate for debt service in an amount of no more than $0.3391?"

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