Bond issue canceledSIAC supported geothermal well field during meeting
The Washington School Board decided not to pursue a bond referendum at last night’s school board meeting.
Last month the school district found out they could use a line of credit to replace the boiler iin the former junior high school or patch it.
Board member Stephanie Ellingson motioned to have her previous motion of moving forward with the bond referendum petition rescinded. All of the board members approved that motion.
Another factor in not moving forward with the bond referendum was because of the feedback from the School Improvement Advisory Committee. (SIAC). The SIAC discussed the bond and voted as to what items would be supported, if any.
“To replace the boiler only there was two votes,” Superintendent Dr. Mike Jorgensen said. “To replace the steam traps and lights there was no votes. Geothermal using the existing well field and moving the small boiler from Lincoln had zero votes. Geothermal using new well field had 20 votes. Geothermal of the Lincoln building had 23 votes and a multi-purpose addition on the middle school had 15 votes.”
Jorgensen said there was a good discussion at the SIAC meeting but he was disappointed at the lack of attendance by parents.
“We each personally invited those groups to come and I think there were four that were not already a part of SIAC that showed up,” Jorgensen said. “My concern is if there’s that much apathy out there, you know, I’m not sure how excited I am about going forward because if we don’t have the parents behind it I’m not sure it’s worth doing.”
Jorgensen said the board should wait.
Board member Eric Turner pointed out that despite not moving forward with the bond the district still had the boiler issue to deal with and the band room at the middle school.
“What I see is we have a definite need and we know we’re going to have to take care of that within a year,” Turner said. “We have to have some plan for the following year. We’re going to have other needs that we’re going to have to seek funding or approval for funding for some of those needs. We have the loan option, the capital loan available.”
Turner said it would take a lot of education to gather support to proceed with a bond. He asked the board if they should go ahead and proceed with taking care of the boiler.
“If you really look at how a bond issue is truly supposed to work it’s really not supposed to be board initiated,” Jorgensen said. “It’s really supposed to be from the community. They bring the petition to you saying this is what we want to see done. I really think we’re in the position where that’s what needs to happen.”
Board member Heidi Vittetoe said the board asked the community 12 months ago about the bond and opinions hadn’t changed.
“There’s no new revelation that this stuff is coming and nobody is jumping right up,” she said.
Jorgensen said the board could give themselves a year with the patch. He wanted them to keep their options open.
“A $250,000 boiler is very easy,” Jorgensen said. “However, I don’t think it is in the best interest of the district.”
Vittetoe said she would like to have the easy thing done.
“I feel it’s our responsibility to see that our facility can operate,” she said. “We want to keep our focus on educating kids. If the boiler goes down in the meantime it’s going to be nothing but drama.”
Turner agreed with Vittetoe’s statement. He said by the school board moving forward with replacing the boiler a need would be taken care of.
Vittetoe said taking care of the boiler would just be maintenance.
“I’d make the case that we vote to replace the boiler,” she said. “Go ahead with our loan and get it done before winter comes. If we can lock in and get this boiler done, it’s just done then.”
Ellingson said the boiler problem isn’t new information and agreed with moving forward. The boiler will placed on next month’s agenda as an action item.
“Therefore, people have a month if that’s an idea they are adamantly opposed to,” Ellingson said.
If the board goes ahead with fixing the boiler it could be replaced by August. The next meeting will be held on April 10 in Brighton.