Henning Happenings

Chad Koenen

The countdown is on for the upcoming November election. 

The election is set for November 8, and while this will be an “off year” in terms of a lack of Presidential election, we have a number of local city council, county, school board and township seats up for election. This year Henning School District voters will also have another question regarding the upcoming school building referendum.

The building referendum, which will be the first major school building expansion project at Henning School since 1993, could provide everything from a new HVAC system, deferred maintenance to the building, a commons area, updates to the elementary wing, bathrooms and even a new gym. The total cost of the two-part question is approximately $27 million. It’s a big number in terms of overall cost, but given the rising inflation and costs associated with construction, one can almost assume that the cost of a building project will only go up over time should the referendum not pass. 

The last major building project at the school was a large $4.7 million project that was approved by voters in 1993 by a 707 to 406 margin. At the time it was a record turn out for voters in the during a special school election in Henning. 

To the best of our knowledge, this is the ninth building project being put forward to voters in the Henning School District. Voters have approved the building expansion and construction plan in six of those levy’s, including the last one in 1993. Many times voters passed the measures by a wide margin. 

In fact, the closest building referendum vote in Henning’s history was in 1908 when 18 voters unanimously approved a $6,000 proposal to finance the “new” school, which ironically perhaps, was part of the oldest part of the school in 1993. 

The 1993 addition featured an expanded media center, two interactive television studios, classrooms for elementary and special education students an elementary music room, relocated administrative offices, expanded locker rooms, a shop and more. Since that project some 30 years ago, education has dramatically changed with modern advances in technology and further need for improvements in air quality. There are also maintenance issues that pop up over time that also need to be repaired (think about it like a vehicle or house that is 30 years old). 

Over the past few months we have heard a number of questions regarding the referendum and potential impacts for the community. Given the price tag and overall expansive scope of the project, we understand that questions will exist. The school district has a website with some commonly asked questions and their answers, but we also understand not everyone has the ability or wherewithal to go to a website to find answers to commonly asked questions.

Last week Dani were looking through past issues of The Advocate from 30 years ago to research a Letter to the Editor that was written by a local resident about the 1993 school building referendum. Dani came across a question and answer opportunity that former publisher Curt Anderson had in The Advocate leading up to the election. 

The questions that were asked by local residents were not only informative, but provided clarity to a very important issue at the time.

We are planning to “borrow” this idea from The Advocate and open up the Citizen’s Advocate for any question you may have about the referendum. Between now and the election, we are encouraging you to stop by our office at 412 Douglas Ave., email us questions at chad@henningadvocate.com or call us at 548-5585 and tell us your question regarding the school building referendum. The questions will be answered in upcoming issues of the Citizen’s Advocate by Henning School Superintendent Melissa Sparks. 

I had a teacher back in the day that encouraged people to ask questions if they had them as often times your question is shared by other people as well. We suspect that is the case with the referendum and want to help provide additional information regarding this important vote. And remember, as my old teacher often said, “there is no such thing as a stupid question.”

After all, no matter how you vote during the election in November, make sure it is an educated decision. 

Beginning next week we are planning a multi-part series on the school referendum that looks at everything from the school district’s need for the proposed project to what you will actually be voting on in November.