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Local

Voters say no to Princeton Elementary School District's $35 million concept

Referendum for new school building narrowly defeated

Here is the design for the proposed new Grades 3-8 school by Healy Bender Architects of Naperville that was presented in August to the Princeton Elementary School District. The project would cost $35 million and would replace the aging Logan and Lincoln schools. Voters turned down the proposal in Tuesday's election by a margin of 52 percent to 48 percent.
Here is the design for the proposed new Grades 3-8 school by Healy Bender Architects of Naperville that was presented in August to the Princeton Elementary School District. The project would cost $35 million and would replace the aging Logan and Lincoln schools. Voters turned down the proposal in Tuesday's election by a margin of 52 percent to 48 percent.

PRINCETON — Voters in Tuesday's election decided against the Princeton Elementary School District's $35 million referendum to build a new grades 3-8 school and consolidate their remaining buildings.

The referendum was narrowly defeated, with 2,721 votes against it, and 2,525 votes in favor.

The margin of defeat was about 52 percent to 48 percent.

The total includes two registered voters in Putnam County, who split their votes, one in favor, one opposed.

"On behalf of the entire district, I want to thank everyone that participated in this process, including all our citizens that voted on the proposition. To say that we failed would be unfair to our community, the same community that has time and time again stepped up to support our school district. We are grateful to our entire community for all that it does to make Princeton Elementary a district I am very proud to serve," PES Superintendent Tim Smith said.

The concept was for a new, 109,900-square-foot building for grades 3 through 8 that also included the demolition and return to green space of Lincoln and Logan schools and $500,000 in upgrades at Douglas School.

There also would have been $1.2 million for upgrades, security improvements and additional land at Jefferson School.

The project evolved through the past three years and previously included a plan for a redesigned Jefferson building for grades K-8 that came with a $60 million price tag.

Smith has said the district spends about $250,000 a year on building maintenance.

If approved, property owners would have faced a tax increase of 0.94 per $100 of assessed value over the life of the 20-year bond. Owners of average tillable farmland could have expected to pay an additional $3.58 per acre per year.

The owner of a home with a market value of $100,000 would have seen a yearly increase of $257 in property taxes.

The second phase of the consolidation project would have begun when and if the district receives funds from the state through a 2006 capital construction grant.

Peru recently had an 11-year wait for similar state funding before the money finally came through.

Following the receipt of the state funds, the district would have constructed a Jefferson addition to house pre-K through second-grade, and Douglas School would have been demolished and returned to green space.

A tentative timeline showed construction on the new school could have started in June and been completed by August 2020.

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