DeWITT, Iowa - After defeating seven school bond issues since 1996, voters in the Central Community School District overwhelmingly approved a $13.95 million bond issue Tuesday as part of a $27.3 million school facilities improvement plan.

The bond issue was approved by a vote of 1,848 "yes" votes to 662 "no" votes. The bond issue required 60 percent of the vote to pass, and received 73.6 percent.

A group of supporters of the plan gathered at Jorgie's in DeWitt on Tuesday night to wait for the results to come in and cheered loudly when school board member Dennis Campbell gave the "thumbs-up" while getting the results on his cell phone.

The district's last bond issue vote was in 2004, when 3,101 voters turned out and only about 45 percent voted "yes."

School district Superintendent Dan Peterson thanked everyone who worked on the campaign committees, and said the project will benefit not only the students but the communities in the district.

"It was a difficult battle worth fighting, and it was great to see the results," Peterson said.

The plan includes expansion of the middle school/high school complex that will create an intermediate school wing for students in grades 4-6. That will allow students in grades 4-5 to move out of Ekstrand Elementary, which has been using modular classrooms for several years due to crowded conditions. The expansion also will include new high school classrooms and offices and a Careers and Technology Education wing.

The plan also calls for a new auditorium and gymnasium and new athletic fields. Other sources of funding for the project include 1-cent sales tax revenues, donations and grants.

Terri Selzer, principal at Ekstrand Elementary, said she was pleased with the outcome of the vote.

"It just feels really, really good," she said. "It's good for the teachers and it's good for the kids."

School board president Kurt Rickard also offered his thanks to everyone who worked on the campaign committees and said the bond issue will benefit the school district for many years to come.

"I think our district is on its way," Rickard said. "I expect great things for our district."

Board member Bill Turnis said the overwhelming margin of approval was "an example of what can happen when the whole district pulls together."

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