GOSHEN — Moments before final results were announced in the Tuesday, Nov. 5, special election for Goshen Schools, superintendent Diane Woodworth and board president Jane Troup exchanged a celebratory high-five.
After months of discussion and debate between school administration and the community, Goshen voters approved the $17 million school improvement project with 2,099 total “yes” votes and 1,341 total “no” votes. That means that property owners in the Goshen Schools district will be funding improvements to both Goshen Middle School and Goshen High School with an increased property tax. Improvements will include a new pool and more space for music programs and cafeteria areas, as well as other upgrades for the two buildings.
Tuesday’s total vote count includes absentee votes but does not include a lone provisional ballot that still needs to be approved by the Elkhart County election board.
“The election does not hang in the balance of provisional ballots,” Wayne Kramer, chair of the election board, said jokingly after the results were tallied.
Kramer noted that the last special election in Elkhart County happened in the 1960s, so there’s no easy way to compare Tuesday’s voter turnout to the results of any other special election. Just 15 percent of the 22,425 registered voters living in the Goshen Schools district actually voted on Tuesday.
In the early afternoon on Tuesday, county clerk Wendy Hudson reported that poll workers had been seeing a steady stream of voters that day, especially in the early morning hours.
Following the news that the referendum had passed on Tuesday evening, the mood was lighthearted among Goshen Schools representatives gathered in the Elkhart County administration building.
“I just want to thank the community for the vote of affirmation for kids and teachers,” Woodworth said.
She also extended thanks to the volunteer political action committee group, Say YES Goshen, for spreading the word about the project and encouraging people to vote.
Mayor Allan Kauffman said he appreciated the support ahead of the vote from local newspapers and the Goshen Chamber of commerce.
"It's a good thing for Goshen. I think we need to to continue to have things like this to attract young families and professionals to our community. It was a good vote."
The next step for the project, Woodworth said, will happen in the school board’s next meeting. The board will approve a technical review committee and approve other official documents to kick off the project. Groundbreaking for the new spaces at the middle school and high school will hopefully happen in August 2014, she said.
Here’s the breakdown of votes for and against the project at each of the precincts:
Elkhart 1 — 40 yes, 39 no
Elkhart 2 — 20 yes, 15 no
Elkhart 3 — 34 yes, 57 no
Elkhart 4 — 69 yes, 82 no
Elkhart 5 — 62 yes, 87 no
Elkhart 6 — 81 yes, 60 no
Elkhart 7 — 69 yes, 99 no
Elkhart 8 — 43 yes, 61 no
Elkhart 9 — 104 yes, 90 no
Elkhart 10 — 123 yes, 103 no
Elkhart 11 — 25 yes, 24 no
Elkhart 12 — 197 yes, 64 no
Elkhart 13 — 94 yes, 49 no
Elkhart 14 — 221 yes, 64 no
Elkhart 15 — 234 yes, 136 no
Elkhart 16 — 126 yes, 66 no
Elkhart 17 — 136 yes, 62 no
Elkhart 18 — 80 yes, 55 no
Elkhart 19 — 268 yes, 63 no
Elkhart 20 — 30 yes, 34 no
Elkhart 21 — 43 yes, 31 no