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Upcoming Bond Referendum

What Has Been Done?

Having served our community for 54 years, our high school’s physical infrastructure is showing signs of age, and our systems are growing obsolete. In response, a comprehensive District master plan was completed to outline a sustainable, long-term solution. Throughout this process, it was important to the School Board to revitalize as much of the existing building as possible, while creating an environment where students thrive and educators inspire. We want an atmosphere that nurtures creativity, facilitates collaboration, and supports growth.

To ensure our objectives are aligned, we actively engaged our valued staff, students, and community members in surveys and engagement sessions. Through these efforts, we identified key areas of focus:

Health and Well-Being
Safety and Security
ADA Regulations
Educational Technology
Specialized Programs
Attracting/Retaining Teachers
Aging Facilities
Community Pride

For more information, visit our FAQ section below!

Prioritized Needs


Increase Student Safety and Security

The safety of our students, staff and visitors is of the utmost importance. Upgrades to safety protocols, security features, and ADA compliance enhance overall safety. Renovating the aging infrastructure and optimizing natural light and ventilation will prioritize student well-being and create a more conducive learning environment. 


Improve Learning Spaces

Our top priority is improving our academic learning environments for all students. Addressing capacity concerns is essential to our evolving curriculum and the need to expand programs like science, fine arts, and vocational training. Upgrading facilities will allow for technology improvements and spaces that enhance learning. 


Create a Sense of Community

It is important to our District to create a welcoming and inclusive environment where students, teachers, parents, and community members want to be. By investing in upgraded facilities, we can foster collaboration and increase our ability to attract and retain talented educators who are instrumental in providing a high-quality education. 

What Are We Proposing?


To view a larger plan, please click here!

What's Included?


Learning Environments

  • Ten (10) new classrooms

  • Create a new Special Education suite

  • Flexible learning areas


Fine Arts

  • New Choir area

  • New Band area

  • New storage for Band and Theatre


  • Create dedicated classroom and lab space to support the future of science education

  • Replace outdated Science infrastructure including chemical fume hoods, sinks, storage, and student workstations

  • Update the learning environment to provide the tools for student success

  • Improve student/teacher collaboration and group work

Media Center

  • Provide space for collaboration and peer-to-peer learning opportunities

  • Maximize opportunities for large and small group learning

  • Increase utilization by relocating to the core of the building

Athletic Spaces

  • Renovated locker rooms

  • New Wrestling/Multi-purpose room to accommodate girls and boys

  • New Weight room


Infrastructure System

  • Replace aging and obsolete mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems

  • Improved system efficiency and long-term cost savings


Career and Technical Education

  • Renovation of Industrial Technology space to expand programming

  • Update infrastructure for improved ventilation

  • Improve organization of space and equipment to allow for safer learning

  • New Agriculture classroom and lab space

  • New Art area

  • New Family Consumer Sciences (FACS) area

Safety and Security

  • Two (2) new secure entrances to enhance safety and security

  • Controlled access throughout the building

  • Separate District and High School administration areas

  • Improved visibility from Administration area

  • Ensure that all areas of the school meet current ADA requirements

  • Improved traffic and pedestrian circulation

What Is Your Impact?

For the Proposed $19.16 Million General Obligation Bond


estimated additional cost impact per home
(for $100,000 assessed value)



estimated additional cost impact per acre
(average land only assessed value in O'Brien Co.)

Countdown to Vote

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Community Meetings

October 16
6:30 pm
Sheldon HS Media Center

What is My Tax Impact?

Use these simple calculators to determine how the proposed bond will impact you. 

Residential Calculator


Agricultural Calculator


Where to Vote

Tuesday, November 7

7:00 AM – 8:00 PM

O'Brien County

Sheldon & Archer
Crossroads Pavilion

Sanborn Community Building

Dale & Summit
O'Brien County Courthouse (Primghar)

Paullina City Hall

Osceola County

American Legion Hall

Sioux County

Grant & Lynn
DEMCO Community Center

Lyon County

George Community Building

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are we proposing this now?

Lack of space, handicap accessibility, school safety, and failing infrastructure systems are all important issues that need addressed. The school district has been making repairs and improvements, but replacement of the infrastructure systems is estimated at $17 million dollars and would take a decade to pay for without a bond.

Any system failure during that time would have a significant negative impact on the educational environment. In addition, replacing the infrastructure would not address the lack of space, handicap accessibility, or school safety concerns.

Why does the high school need to be updated?

While portions of the high school appear to be in good condition, an assessment of the building shows significant infrastructure concerns, including the following:

  • Mechanical systems are the end of life.

Heating and cooling systems need replacing, including fresh air ventilation systems and all mechanical controls. An example of air conditioning failure occurred the first week of school when three rooftop units malfunctioned. Two units were able to be repaired, but one unit had a bad compressor and damage the unit. The cost to repair was $20,000 and the cost to replace is $85,000. With a dozen rooftop units that are all failing, repair/replacement costs are going to be significant.

  • Electrical panels are undersized.

In addition to undersized electrical panels, many of the lighting fixtures use light bulbs that are no longer available. Upgrading to LED lighting would improve light quality and cost less to operate.

  • Plumbing systems are aging and hard water has taken a toll.

The cast iron pipes are flaking, sagging, and showing signs of cracking. The flaking and sagging lead to clogged pipes, and the cracking can result in pipe ruptures. A ruptured pipe would require immediate repair, and since the pipes are below the floor, repair would not only be expensive, but also extremely disruptive to the learning environment.

How does the plan improve school safety and security?

The majority of students and visitors enter on the east side of the building, where the parking lot is located. By moving the central office to the entrance on the east side of the building, staff would physically see who is entering the building and visitors would have to check in with office staff before gaining access to the building.

Are there handicap accessibility concerns at the current high school?

The high school had an ADA compliance visit in 2022 and was cited for nine non-compliance issues. Most of the issues were remedied, but the remaining non-compliance issues will require building renovation:

  • The band and choir rooms have stairs and are not considered handicap accessible. The same is true for a portion of the library.

  • Restroom entries are not wide enough to meet current code requirements. Steel framed doorways and block walls must be removed to widen the entries.

The locker room showers are not handicap accessible.

How many students are at the high school? Is the building at capacity?

The high school has steadily been increasing enrollment. Additional teachers have been hired to accommodate our increasing enrollment and adapt to the changing learning needs of our students.

The high school teaching staff has added 6 teaching positions in the last 10 years, resulting in inadequate classroom space. For example:

  • There are three science teachers and only two science classrooms. As a result, one science teacher will conduct class using a mobile cart, rotating between the library and other available spaces throughout the high school.

  • Our five special education teachers share three classrooms.

  • An English Language (EL) teacher was added last year to help our EL learners be more successful. Last year she had to teach in the back of a classroom. This year she will be working out of a converted storage room.

  • The classroom for Talented and Gifted (TAG) and Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) is part of a teacher’s workroom with a loud copier/printer.

  • The health teacher does not have an available classroom for health class, so classes will be taught in the auditorium. The auditorium is designed for performances and large audience gatherings. It does not provide an environment conducive for classroom learning.

Since elementary students will be our future high school students, what is the enrollment trend for East Elementary?

The elementary enrollment has been trending upward, with about 50 more elementary students than 5 years ago. Estimates indicate enrollment will continue to rise as the City of Sheldon has announced multiple new housing projects and the workforce shortage supports the demand for additional employees.

How long will it take to complete the proposed project?

Approximately 3 years as outlined below.

  • November 2023: Bond vote is held.

  • December 2023: Architects would start on detailed plans, if the bond is approved.

  • Late Winter 2024: Project is put out for bid.

  • Late Summer 2024: Construction begins.

  • Summer 2024 through Summer 2026: The project will be completed in four phases to allow for minimal disruption to our students.

Will students be relocated/disrupted during construction?

The additional classrooms will be constructed first, which will allow the new spaces to be utilized while renovating the existing building. The building renovation will occur in phases so instruction can continue while the renovation occurs.

How will the total project be funded?

The project will be funded with District SAVE (sales tax) funds and a General Obligation bond, as explained below:

  • $19,160,000: General Obligation (GO) Bond

A GO bond is a method of long-term financing that a school district may use to borrow money for construction projects. This spreads the cost of the project over a number of years, similar to a home mortgage. The school district uses property tax funds to repay the debt.

  • $13,840,000: SAVE Funds (Secure an Advanced Vision for Education)

SAVE is money collected through a one-cent statewide sales tax to help Iowa schools make significant progress in addressing overdue facility and equipment needs.

What will the tax impact be?

The tax rate increase would be $2.47 per thousand of taxable property valuation. It is important to note there is a “rollback” and you do not pay taxes on the full assessed value. A tax calculator is available on the right to provide you the specific tax impact for your property.

The school district has been taking steps to reduce the school district tax rate. Thirteen years ago, the school tax rate was $14.63, while today the tax rate is $12.00. This proposed increase of $2.47 would take the tax rate to $14.47. The school district will work to reduce that rate in future years.

What is the term of the bond?

The term is 20 years. Across the state, bonds have a history of being paid off early and that would be the goal for this bond. The middle school was recently paid off and the elementary school will be paid off in 2026.

What are the District's outstanding levies?



If the bond is unsuccessful, when could another election be held?

We would need to wait until November 2024. School election rules changed during the last legislative session. School elections may now only occur once per year, at the regular November election.

If the project is delayed until November 2025, the construction manager estimates costs will increase by approximately $2 million.

How will this impact available funding for ongoing maintenance at East Elementary and the Middle School?
  • The General Obligation (GO) Bond would be collected and used specifically for the purpose of funding the proposed high school project. A GO Bond does not impact the funds available for regular facility maintenance.

  • The SAVE Bond would impact the funds available for facility maintenance, and a detailed financial analysis was conducted for this purpose. The analysis determined adequate funds would remain available to complete facility maintenance needs.

In a neighboring community, they built an elementary school for about the same cost as this proposed renovation and addition. Why don't we build new?

All options have been explored, including building a new high school. Unfortunately, building a new high school would cost in excess of $50 million, which is more than our district is legally allowed to spend based on property valuations within the school district.

Regarding the cost to build an elementary school, the costs are significantly less, as elementary schools do not require as many specialized spaces, such as industrial tech shops, family and consumer science classrooms, science labs, band rooms, auditoriums, weight rooms, and locker rooms.

While the proposed high school plan is not all new construction, the renovation would update the majority of the existing building and provide a high quality learning environment for years to come.

Voting Information

Who is eligible to vote?

Any registered voter living within the Sheldon Community School District boundaries is eligible to participate in the election.  Election day will be November 7, 2023, with the polls open from 7:00 am – 8:00 pm.

View map to find out if you are eligible to vote.

Am I registered to vote in Iowa?

Not sure if you are a registered voter? Find out here.

How do I update my registration information?

You MUST update your information if you change your name, address, or party affiliation. You can find more information about voter registration and updating your registration here

Can I vote using an absentee ballot?

Yes, you can request your ballot here.

Important Dates

October 18
Absentee ballots mailed out
October 23
Deadline to request absentee ballot
November 6
Deadline to vote early at Auditor’s office

Can I vote early?

Yes, you may vote early in-person at the Auditor's office from October 18th – November 6th from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm

I have additional questions about voting.

Contact your County Auditor:

Barb Rowher, O'Brien County Auditor
(P) (712) 957-3225

Rochelle Van Tilburg, Osceola County Auditor
(P) (712) 754-2241

Joe Van Tol, Sioux County Auditor
(P) (712) 737-2216

Jennifer Smit, Lyon County Auditor
(P) (712) 472-8517


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