The Emporia Public Schools Board of Education announced a postponement of the upcoming USD 253 bond election originally scheduled for Sept. 5 Wednesday evening.
The vote will now become a part of the Nov. 5 General Election Ballot due to a “technical error related to the statutorily required notice of bond election publication.”
In a written statement sent out late Wednesday, the USD 253 Community Relations Department stated the delay “will allow the required notice to be published in its entirety and ensure the election follows statutory guidelines.”
The statement goes on to read: “This technical error was brought to the district’s attention this morning. While we know this delays our original timeline, the district wants to maintain transparency with this process and ensure the validity of the election. We will utilize this extra time to continue providing information regarding the bond to the public. We are excited about the 2019-20 school year and the upcoming November election.
In other business, the board discussed the possibility of constructing a new facility for the Maynard Early Childhood Center. Citing a recommendation from the board’s Early Learning Facilities Task Force, USD 253 Superintendent Kevin Case proposed district administrators start communicating their intention to construct a new building with local architecture firms.
“I would direct district administration to work collaboratively with HTK Architects to begin discussions on the process to include a new early learning facility as part of the proposed bond issue,” Case said.
Case touched on the cost of the project, which he estimated would not exceed $9 million. Seeing as the proposed $78 million bond issue already allocates $7.1 million for the renovation of Maynard’s current facilities, he gave several different options for covering the $1.9 million difference. Case mentioned the utilization of capital outlay funding or the reprioritization of a small portion of the existing bond in addition to seeking support from local foundations.
The issue came to a vote and passed 6-1 with the single “no” vote coming from Board Member Mike Crouch, who said he had an issue with the plan’s wording.
“I think it’s the right recommendation, I think it’s the right approach, but I’m uncomfortable with the bullet point of potentially reprioritizing a portion of the bond,” Crouch said. “My vote will reflect that, but I don’t want it to come across to anyone that I’m not 100 percent supportive of the [Early Learning Facilities Task Force’s] recommendations.”
Board members understood Crouch’s concerns, but also reminded him that any reprioritization of bond money would need to be approved as part of a separate board vote. At this point in time, the proposed facility has yet to even find a set location.
“Honestly, $7.1 million and $9 million is a lot of money,” Board Member Mallory Koci said. “It’s kind of hard for me to imagine, but it helps to think about the inverse. What’s the cost of not doing this? How is this going to affect our community if we don’t have an up-to-date and adequate facility for early childhood education? If we’re investing in kindergarten readiness, then that’s a part. This kind of facility specifically serves some of our most at-risk students.”
During the meeting, the board also:
• Approved a budget for the 2019-2020 school year, which was published in the Aug. 3 edition of The Gazette