SOLOMON — Voters overwhelming rejected a $10.98 million bond issue in the Solomon School District.

The unofficial tally in Tuesday's election was 132 "yes" votes, or 31.8 percent, and 283 "no" votes, or 68.2 percent.

The money would have been used to tear down an old elementary school and built 11 new classrooms. It also would have been used to update school facilities to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act; install new heating and air-conditioning; and update electrical systems, restrooms and locker rooms.

“We’re going to have to seriously step back and think and see what the issues were. We are going to have to evaluate where we go next,” said Justin Coup, Solomon superintendent. “We gave what the board thought was the best possible solution for the needs of our district. Obviously the taxpayers didn’t feel that way. I think it’s a matter of going back and listening. ...

“The biggest one we heard all along is the cost of it. We understand that. Nobody wants a tax increase.”

The property tax levy in the district would have increased an estimated 20.5 mills for the next 25 years to pay off the bonds.

“They asked us what Plan B was and all along Plan B is we have to probably go at it again,” Coup said.

The margin of failure will be a factor in future plans, he said.

“I honestly don’t know. I wish I had a plan,” he said.

Another look

Brad Homman, president of the school board and Dickinson County administrator, had comments similar to those made when voters in August rejected a proposed $17.7 million justice center.

“Unfortunately, the problems still exist; the same way with the school,” he said. “We still have a deteriorating building full of asbestos.”

He said something will need to be done in the future, but the question is what that will be.

“The board will have to reconvene and look at it again,” he said. “I don’t know if a scaled-down version will be supported or not but I don’t know how we would scale it down and achieve the goals that we have.”

Already trimmed

Coup said renovations recommended by a committee of community members and staff totaled $18.5 million. The school board and architects met a dozen times to trim the project to $10.98 million.

Voter turnout in Dickinson County was 19 percent.