Mail-in election to expand schools in Bennet, Palmyra decided by 11 votes | Education

Voters in District OR-1 narrowly backed a $22 million bond issue to expand Bennet Elementary School and Palmyra High School.

In unofficial results of a mail-in election released Tuesday afternoon, voters in the fast-growing district comprising southeastern Lancaster County and western Otoe County backed the bond issue by a margin of 595-584.

The Lancaster County Elections Commissioner said 46% of registered voters in the district returned ballots.

To fund the bonds, the owner of a home assessed at $100,000 would pay an additional $224 per year, while farmland owners would pay an additional $156 for every $100,000 of assessment.

Much of taxpayer money will fund a 28,000 square foot expansion at Palmyra Jr.-Sr. High School that would add new classrooms and expand the main office and common area.

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The project would include nine new classrooms for three sixth-grade sections and general content areas, as well as space for special education and academic/behavioral intervention.

About 7,300 square feet are dedicated to new stores for vocational and technical training subjects — including metalworking, woodworking and agriculture — as part of the district’s effort to expand its college-prep offerings. college and career that include partnerships with local businesses.

The current commercial space would be converted into a community fitness room.

A second-floor weight room would be transformed into a multi-purpose space that could house wrestling practices, which the high school currently holds in Bennet.

At Bennet Elementary School, officials want to install a classroom wing, as well as a new secure entrance and office connected to the commons, which will include an expanded kitchen and a multipurpose activity space.

Five new classrooms and renovations would allow the school to have three sections of each grade level from kindergarten through fifth grade.

The district school board launched the bond issue to meet the surge in enrollment, which is expected to increase by 120 students in five years. Bennet School is currently overcrowded and Palmyra is at capacity.

Last year, 664 students were enrolled in the district, including 387 students at Bennet. The growth there has prompted authorities to move sixth graders to Palmyra starting this fall.

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