Auditorium vote moves aheadSpecial meeting planned Feb. 20 to explore options
The Washington school board approved a resolution to move forward with a bond vote of $1.1 million on April 1 at their meeting Wednesday evening.
“I have been presented with a petition from the group promoting the building of an auditorium in the district,” said business manager Jeffrey Dieleman. “They needed 50 signatures to bring this to the board; they got over 300, and so I worked with our bonding attorney to do all of the appropriate paperwork, and we have a set time to act on this petition and call for an election.”
There are three different options the district can go with for the bond, Dieleman said. The 20-cent option would be paid back in 17 years, the 30-cent option would be paid back in 10 years, and the 40-cent option would be paid back in seven years, according to the calculations the bond attorney gave the district.
“When you look at the three different things, obviously, the lower the amount the longer it will take to pay back, and also, what’s interesting is if you look at the interest rate column the ideal situation would be, if we’re able to do it, would be 40 cents and get it done [paid back] in seven years and that’s with 2 percent interest,” Jorgensen said.
“When you look at the 20-cent, 30-cent, 40-cent increase in relation to your budget, that’s just looking at what’s available, or interest money?” Roe asked Dieleman.
Dieleman said they would know better which option after the district’s budget workshop on Feb. 18. These were just examples Dieleman was giving the school board.
“For example, if we go through our budget workshop and we’re only going to be able to lower our tax asking by 10 cents then 40 is not as good,” Dieleman said. “But if we can lower ours by a quarter, then maybe 30 cents is one.”
Jorgensen asked the board members if they could have a special meeting on Thursday, Feb. 20, to decide which option to present with the bond vote.
“The reason why that’s important is it gives the voters in our community time to digest what we’re asking for,” Dieleman said. “If we wait until the next board meeting, that’s too late.”
Board member Heidi Vittetoe said she didn’t see anything telling voters this bond vote was contingent upon receiving the Vision Iowa grant.
“Yeah, there’s nothing here that will say that, but that’s still true,” Dieleman said.
“OK, so that’s going to be an important thing — that people understand that this doesn’t mean it’s going to happen,” Viettetoe said.
“If the Vision Iowa doesn’t happen, they will have to figure out another way to raise that $1.4 million,” Jorgensen said.
Vittetoe asked Dieleman if the board members should have information about the proposed auditorium and the grant application process with Vision Iowa or what would happen if the bond vote doesn’t happen.
Dieleman said that’s not the school board member’s place to do so.
“This is an outside group,” Dieleman said. “They brought their petition. All we’re doing is facilitating the vote.”
Vittetoe said she wanted to clarify the school board wasn’t promoting the bond issue.
“You can’t promote a bond issue,” Dieleman said.
“Right,” Vittetoe said. “So if there’s any encouragement from people in a direction on this, it has to come from outside forces, not our own.”
Dieleman said it was the district’s job to provide information on how it would affect voters’ taxes. Everything else, such as what the project looks like, would come from the outside group.
A motion was made to approve the resolution for starting the process for the bond vote. The motion was approved.
Other items covered at the school board meeting included approving the school calendar for the 2014-15 school year. School will begin on Tuesday, Aug. 19, and will tentatively end on Thursday, May 21, 2105, if there are no snow days.
The school board also heard a presentation from Mary Lou Erlacher about Workplace Learning Connection in eastern Iowa and how their program works in the Washington Community School District. Erlacher said job shadows were doing well in the district. She also said she expects once the Kirkwood Regional Center opens next fall there will be an increase in demand for job shadows and possibly internships.
The next school board meeting will be held on Feb. 20, at 5:45 p.m. to discuss which option to bring forth with the bond vote. The next regularly scheduled school board meeting will be held on March 12, at 7 p.m. in the Washington Middle School art room.