USD 109 voters approve historic $16 million school bond by 60-40 margin

The first major improvement to school buildings in Belleville in more than 50 years was approved by voters in a mail ballot election counted Tuesday, February 20. The unofficial tally was 960 yes, 684 no.

Two-thirds of the Republic County/USD 109 eligible voters cast ballots in the election, 1,644 of 2,522 registered on the rolls in the Republic County Clerk’s office.

“Unbelievable,” USD 109 board president Clay Siemsen repeated. Siemsen sat outside the clerk’s office for the two hours it took to tally the votes on Tuesday.

“I’m just speechless,” he said.

“Thanks to all the people who paid attention. Thanks to the people who got informed. They saw the need.”

Siemsen said he was relieved that the final vote was not close.

A special meeting of the USD 109 board is scheduled for this Thursday, February 22 at 7 p.m. when the board will meet to discuss the next steps of the project. The board facilities committee will meet with architects, construction managers and bond attorneys at 2 p.m. that day.

“With interest rates going up, the first thing we need to do is get the bonds sold,” Siemsen said. The bond attorney estimated a four percent interest rate for the issue; this week that rate was at 3.58 percent.

The 25-year bonds approved Tuesday will add classrooms, shelters and security improvements at both East Elementary and Republic County Jr./Sr. High School. In addition, a multipurpose room and wrestling gymnasium will be added to the south side of Republic County Jr./Sr. High, which also gains a new roof and HVAC system in the proposal.

The addition at East Elementary will allow the preschool to move back into that building. The past several years pre-school classes have been taught at the United Presbyterian Church.

More information on the bond here –