Voters OK tax levy to help pay for school improvements here

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Niles Community Schools Building and Site Improvement Fund millage was passed on Monday in an election that brought out more voters than usual.
The five-year, one mill tax levy will enable the school district to make necessary building and site improvements over the next five years, officials said.
For a homeowner with a home valued at $100,000, the mill will cost about $50 a year for the next five years.
A total of 1,309 voters turned out at the polls with 733 voting in favor of the millage and 571 against it. Five ballots cast were judged spoiled by election workers.
At Niles High School, which services voters who live on the city's east side, 226 people voted yes and 238 voted no.
At the Westside School Administration Building, which services voters on the city's west side, 331 voted yes and 171 voted no.
At Howard Elementary School, which services the district's Barron Lake area residents, 176 voted yes and 162 voted no to the millage.
Only 311 people voted in the school board election earlier this year.
That is out of 16,501 people eligible to vote in the school district's elections.
However, he was more pleased with the election outcome.
Law said the millage will appear on the December tax roll.
Subsequently the school district will submit to the State Department of Education a list of proposed improvements the district wants to make, he said.
Law said the school district hopes to submit the major part of the list in January.
He said the first priority will be to reinstate the district's roof replacement program, changing exterior doors that currently pose a security risk to students and faculty, as well as changing $250,000 worth of lights that need to be replaced before 2005.
The lights are fluorescent and will be taken off the market nationwide in 2005, which means the school district would be unable to replace them if they broke after that.
Law said he will work with the school board and the building and grounds department during October and November to prepare the list of suggested improvements, which will have to be approved by the state's department of education.
Although the school district didn't do any campaigning before the election, a group from the school district's Strategic Planning Committee -- a citizen-based committee established to define needs and future goals for the school district – collected the names of "yes" voters before election day.
The school district has five years to make their building and site improvements.
Law said administrators were happy about the election outcome this morning, and he thinks the students will be the beneficiaries of the result.

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