BELLEVUE, Iowa — Bellevue voters will be asked to approve the issuance of up to $16 million in bonds to pay for a new elementary school building.

Bellevue Community School Board members last week set a Sept. 11 referendum date for the bond measure. A 60 percent supermajority is necessary for it to pass.

Tom Meyer, the district’s superintendent, said a portion of the existing Bellevue Elementary School predates the Civil War. Built in 1848, the structure now is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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While school officials realize the historical and cultural value of the building, it falls short as a teaching institution, Meyer said.

“The building’s old,” he said. “Education has changed. Learning has changed. The way we teach has changed. We need more collaborative learning spaces.”

The school building lacks a green space out front, meaning recess often takes place on a paved surface. Additionally, updating the school to fit the district’s needs would be nearly as costly as building new, Meyer said.

“Based on fire marshal codes, we can’t make any improvements up there without spending a significant amount of money,” he said.

If the bond measure is approved, the building would be constructed near the existing Bellevue Middle/High School. Meyer described it as a two- to three-year project that doesn’t yet have a firm timeline.

According to district estimates, the owner of a home valued at $200,000 would pay about $36 more in taxes per month if the bond measure passes.

District leaders already have reached out to some organizations that might have an interest in refurbishing the building, which initially served as the Jackson County Courthouse.

“It’s got a long history,” Meyer said. “And at the same time, even though we want to move the school out of there, we want to help preserve the history of that building.”