Shenandoah High School Expansion and Remodeling Project

This drawing provided by the Shenandoah School District details the high school's proposed expansion and remodeling project. Areas shaded red included the proposed CTE and gym/fitness center expansion. Pink-shaded areas included repurposed areas for STEM-related curricula. Gray-shaded areas cover proposed infrastructure improvements.

(Shenandoah) -- The sun may have come up Wednesday morning for supporters of a major bond issue rejected in the Shenandoah School District.

But, school officials still face a review of why the district's voters said an emphatic "no" to a $14.7 million bond issue for expansion and renovation of Shenandoah High School. Unofficial results show the referendum received only a little more than 43% of the vote--far short of the 60% supermajority necessary for passage. Speaking on KMA's "Morning Line" program Wednesday morning, Shenandoah School Superintendent Dr. Kerri Nelson says several factors may have contributed to the bond issue's defeat.

"You know, I think we knew at the beginning it would be a little bit of a challenge," said Nelson. "We knew that we were including a gym, and that's always a conversation piece in bond issues. We know the economic conditions of southwest Iowa--that's always a factor. And, to be honest, we had a board conflict right there that obviously contributed to the situation.

"There are all kinds of factors that contributed to the situation," she said. "But, I think probably the most important thing we can do now is step back, look at the work that's been done, evaluate it, think through the feedback we've received, and decide how to move forward."

The superintendent says some of the feedback received included opposition toward the gym/fitness center component.

"We had a lot of input that it was important to include," she said, "and we could demonstrate a lot of need for it. Obviously, that message wasn't conveyed well to the community, because it wasn't supported. Those are things we have to consider as we look for future plans."

Residents in Fremont and Mills counties--parts of the district received through redistricting following the Farragut School District's dissolution three years ago--heavily rejected the referendum. Nelson says some Farragut residents were still displeased over the sale of the former school district's facilities.

"There were still some emotions attached to difficult decisions that were made," said Nelson, "decisions about the building use. That was definitively part of the conversation. I think it takes time to work through those issues, and communicate, and help everyone understand that we are working on behalf of the entire district. They are a part of our district, and they do get to weigh in on decisions."

With the bond issue's defeat, Nelson says school officials, board members and supporters will now assess the results, and examine the referendum, itself, before considering their next steps. School districts must wait at least six months before attempting another bond issue vote. Regardless of Tuesday's results, plans for renovations at the high school--covered by $5.8 million in SAVE revenues--will go forward. You can hear the full interview with Dr. Kerri Nelson on our "Morning Line" at kmaland.com.