Parkview rejects $5M referendum, ousts three incumbents

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ORFORDVILLE — The Parkview School District saw its referendum defeated and three incumbent board members ousted in Tuesday’s election.

“I guess the voters decided they don’t want to go with a new school,” said Craig Jones, who was seeking his fourth term on the Parkview School Board.

He, along with fellow incumbents Eric Stelter and Ed Bell, were defeated by three newcomers who opposed the district’s school consolidation plan.

Newcomers Steven Haberman, Charles Hagmann and William Wingerson won seats on the school board.

The Parkview District asked voters to approve a $5 million bond issue in Tuesday’s election. The bond issue would have allowed construction of an addition to the Orfordville Elementary School. The Newark and Footville elementary schools would have been closed and students who attended those schools would attend the newly expanded Orfordville Elementary School.

Voters rejected the referendum question by 76.4 percent, or 1,623 votes, compared to 23.5 percent, or 501 voting in favor of the referendum.

In the school board race, Haberman was the top vote-getter with 1,501 votes, followed by Hagmann with 1,419 votes, and Wingerson with 1,314 votes.

Among the incumbents, Jones received 620 votes, Stelter received 598 votes and Bell received 597 votes.

Wingerson celebrated victory Tuesday night and was pleased with the election results.

“It shows the people have made the decision it’s time for change,” Wingerson said.

He said the first priority of the three newly elected officials will be to ensure no portable classrooms get set up at Orfordville Elementary School. He said the three newcomers will be seated on April 23, and will get to work immediately.

“This was very fulfilling,” Wingerson said. “The people believe in us, and now we will follow through.”

“We gave the people another option and now the work begins,” Haberman said.

Haberman said $5 million didn’t need to be spent for the referendum. He said he will look at closing down Newark and moving into Orfordville and Footville. He said the classroom space is needed at Footville.

“We’ll have to maintain Newark to a certain level, and look at selling it if the possibility were to arise,” Haberman said. “Moving forward, Footville will stay open. We were told by the 3-1 vote the public doesn’t want portable classrooms. We’ll move forward from there, provided we get some more support from the rest of the board.”

If enrollment numbers turn around, Haberman said he would support improvements being made at the high school.

“I do know that one former principal years ago had pulled a couple residents from each township and village and had everyone go back to their areas and ask the residents for a five year plan. I think that’s a very good idea,” he said. “That way, you can get a good even consensus about what the public wants. It won’t happen overnight, but we’ll look at a five-year plan. That way we have a direction.”

Hagmann agreed Newark will be closed down. As the population declines, Footville may eventually close as well.

“We couldn’t see closing them both and the proposal for module classrooms in Orfordville,” Hagmann said. “We are going to close Newark and consolidate into the other locations and make repairs as need be.”

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