Norris intermediate school

A rendering of the proposed Norris intermediate elementary school. Voters in the district overwhelmingly approved a $14 million bond issue to build the new intermediate elementary school and add more space to the high school. (Courtesy DLR Group)

Voters in the Norris Public Schools district on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a $14 million bond issue to build a new intermediate elementary school and add more space to the high school.

Preliminary results from the Lancaster County Election Commissioner's office showed the measure passed with 63 percent of voters approving.

The election commissioner mailed 6,373 ballots to registered voters in the school district Feb. 22, and they had until 5 p.m. Tuesday to return them.

Of 3,111 votes returned, 1,967 supported the bond and 1,133 opposed it.

It was the first time the district had used a mail-in ballot, Superintendent John Skretta said.

"That was a bit of an X factor," he said, adding uncertainty to the result.

As it came to pass, he said, voter turnout was higher but the margin of for and against was similar to past bond elections. Voter turnout was nearly 50 percent.

Lancaster County handled the special bond election because most of the school district's residents live in Lancaster County, said Maura Kelly Tolzin, chief deputy of the Lancaster County Election Office. The school district also includes parts of Gage and Otoe counties.

It was the largest mail election to date handled by the election office, Kelly Tolzin said. Communities served by Norris Public Schools include Roca, Hickman, Firth, Cortland, Panama, Princeton, Holland, Cheney and Rokeby.

The bond issue will be used to build a new elementary school for grades 3 to 5 and add an addition to the west end of the high school for band, agriculture and industrial tech programs.

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Skretta said the expansion actually will affect everybody in the district, from pre-school to high school. "That was one of the things that was powerfully persuasive to our people," he said.

To accommodate years of steady growth, the district had located its preschool in the high school and moved fifth grade into the middle school. The elementary school's enrollment of 780 made it one of the state's largest.

"This will free up more space for students and optimize student learning opportunities," Skretta said.

Construction is scheduled to be complete in fall 2013.



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