Rushford-Peterson gets a second chance with a successful referendum

Voters pass referendum with 52 percent of vote

The referendum passed with a pretty narrow margin at 52 percent. But it was enough to approve a $38 million school for the district’s nearly 700 students.

Robin Honken walked the halls of Rushford-Peterson school as a student three-decade ago.

“I actually grew up in this community. I left for a while and I came back,” said Honken.

Now it’s her three children who go here, and after a 2012 referendum that promised to update and repair the century-old building failed she knew something had to change.

“I feel like we’ve had the flood we’ve had all of these things come together, we’ve pulled together and the school is for me kind of the last thing we needed to get through,” said Honken.

Honken joined the “Vote-Yes-Committee,” a group of people dedicated to passing the district’s latest referendum.

“We had people out door knocking, we had people out dropping reminders to vote, we had people putting signs out, contacting their neighbors, ” Sally Ryman, a committee member, said.

Their hard work paid off when the majority of voters approved a new school that will house all of the district’s students.

“Technology aspects, yes the handicap accessibility issues that we are currently facing will be addressed, and having the proper lighting, heating and cooling, all of those things will enter into this new facility,” Chuck Ehler, Rushford-Peterson’s superintendent, said.

With such a narrow victory margin, school officials are working to gain support from people who were initially against the plan.

“We have the Rushford community here, the Peterson village, we need everybody because it’s a win-win for everybody when it’s done,” Greg Smith, a Rushford-Peterson School Board member, said.

It’s certainly a win for Honken.

“School is really the hub, the center of a community, and we have a wonderful faculty, wonderful staff; we just need a new facility,” Honken said.

The new facility will be built on a piece of land that is already owned by the district. Officials are set to break ground within a few months, and said the fall of 2017 is when they hope students will officially be able to call the new building their school.