The Vigo County School Corp. has secured enough signatures to proceed with getting a referendum question on the May ballot, Superintendent Rob Haworth told the school board Monday.

Last week, the district obtained 1,481 signatures in support of placing Option 2 on the ballot. Option 2 calls for a $260 million referendum to build new academic facilities and renovate non-academic facilities at North, South and West Vigo high schools.

The district needed 500 signatures of registered voters or property owners, and it learned Monday that it has met the requirement. "We are very pleased, and in spite of a COVID season, for our political action committee to go out and really do the work to get that many signatures," Haworth said.

"Now, we're on to the [county] Election Board to ask them to place the question on the ballot," Haworth said. "We'd love to have the number one spot on the ballot."

During a public comment period, Heidi McDonald, president of the Vigo County Teachers Association, said that VCTA endorses the facilities referendum. "Our high schools are really starting to feel the strain and wear and tear of the years," she said. Major updates are needed.

The referendum also would allow existing debt service to be used to address the needs of elementary and middle schools, McDonald said.

Two people who helped secure signatures, Lori Danielson and Clark Cowden, also addressed the board; both are part of a political action committee that will advocate for passage of the facilities referendum.

Danielson thanked the board for moving ahead with Option 2. "It's really going to be transformative for our community and for our businesses," she said.

As she worked to secure signatures, however, she also realized that "our community still needs to be informed" to better understand what the referendum is all about. "We have more work to do, but great work has been done up to this point," she said. The election is just 99 days away.

"We need to create better opportunities for all of our students, and facilities is one way to create an environment they can be more successful," Danielson said.

The school board also approved an updated usage agreement with the Terre Haute Torpedoes Swim Club for continued use of the VCSC Aquatic Center.

The agreement is for 2022 and 2023 and then automatically renews for additional two-year terms unless terminated by either party at least 90 days prior to expiration of the term.

The Torpedoes will pay an annual practice rental fee of $26,400, with monthly payments of $2,200.

It also will pay rental for swim meets: $4,500 for a 2 1/2 day swim meet; if a meet is more than five hours but not more than one day, $1,500; and for an event less than five hours, $750.

The swim meet rental fee does not include custodial costs, meet supervisor costs or security costs; the Torpedoes will be billed for personnel costs at the employees' current pay rate plus any shift differential for Saturday and Sunday event.
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