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Voters in two counties approved  a $34.3 million new building project to merge the schools of Orchard, Clearwater and Ewing. The project, based on an average annual general fund growth of 4%, based on a five-year history of 20 similarly-sized school districts.

The bond  in all three communities, each site would continue to operate during the ‘20-21 school year, while the new school is under construction.

Bond structure and existing funds may be utilized to control the levy during that year.

Unofficial results are

Ewing

For 360

Against 38

Orchard

For 289

Against 230

Clearwater

For 332

Against 103

Orchard district’s valuation for 2019-2020 totals $472,811,755, or 43%; Clearwater’s valuation is $315,693,176, or 29% and Ewing, 28% or $313,686,529.

All bonded debt will come into the new district and the bond payment will be based on the new valuation.

“Everyone in all three communities and in the new district, will have the same bond and general fund levies.”

The total project cost, divided by the three current district results in the same levy.

Ewing patrons will see a decrease in taxes with a three school merger.

The current tax levy is $0.746 with a building fund of $0.026 for a total of $0.772.

In the merged district, the general fund levy would fall to $0.516, combined with a bond fund of $0.205, totaling $0.721.

Homeowner tax liability, on a $50,000 home in Ewing, would decrease $25 per year.

Ag land owners would see savings of $2.21 per irrigated acre; $0.90 per acre on dryland quarters and $0.64 per acre on grassland.

Ewing ag land values are based on the average assessed value per acre in Holt County.

One of the biggest benefits of the combined district is the efficiency offered by creating one tax district.

Current per-pupil costs run approximately $21,000 for Clearwater and Orchard districts, while Ewing costs total $20,000 per student.

With a three-school merger, per pupil costs are projected around $15,000.

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