Board Goes to Referendum to Solve an 11-Year Problem


The first facilities committee meeting dates back to March of 2006. To put this in perspective, the current seniors at GHS were in the first grade. Since 2006, the district has seen two failed referendums. The first failed referendum in 2012, required a $24.0 million voter-approved bond and  failed 27% to 73%. In 2016, the referendum was a $15.7 million voter-approved bond which failed 44% to 56%


At the beginning of the board meeting on January 17, Kevin Knautz discussed what had happened at the ALICE drill training at the primary school on the previous  Friday. In this mock scenario, it became very clear that the primary school is not safe from an intruder. This sparked a number of responses  from the board.


Tara Roddick, mother of an elementary-age child, spoke with tears flowing down her cheeks. “I am no longer okay with just alleviating the overcrowding. The primary school is not safe, and we need to do more,” said Roddick.  


After Herbst explained the costs, to the penny, the school board had a decision to make. To make sure the board made an informed decision, Herbst explained that the district had to estimate their expenditures high and revenues low in order to make the amount of the referendum work. Certain assumptions must be made in planning a referendum. Herbst was unsure what those assumptions were in the 2016 referendum, but he wanted to make sure his were made so the district is financially sound for the next 20 years. With all of Herbst’s assumptions and calculations, this put the referendum amount at $21.8 million.


After 30 minutes of discussion, during which board member Katie Wienen said, “I still think that we should look at consolidating with East Dubuque. As a public perspective, I would have no confidence in giving any money to this board,” the board had to vote.


Chuck Korte, Mike Hyland, Roddick, and McIntyre all voted yes to go to referendum. Laura Edmonds, Wienen, and Long voted no, a repeat of the 2016 vote to go to referendum.


“We need to be unified going forward. While we all have our own opinions, we need to move forward together,” said Herbst.


While each board member is entitled to his or her own opinion on voting matters, every member was encouraged to get behind the referendum and show nothing but support. The board unified around plan E.2. This plan includes a Pre-K through sixth grade building built onto the existing middle school and a seventh grade through twelfth grade building on the existing primary school campus.


Voters of Galena have many choices to make in the April elections. There are three seats on the school board up for election with five candidates running: Eric Dregne, Michael Einsweiler, Tom Long, Mike Hyland, and Nikki Frank. They also have the choice to vote yes or no to the school referendum.

“I could give you all 834 reasons why to vote yes for the referendum. I say that number, because that is the current enrollment of our school district right now,” Herbst said.