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 question will now be moved to the Nov. 5, 2019, General Election Ballot. The delay was caused when required publication guidelines for the bond election fell short of legal requirements due to a legal publication error by The Emporia Gazette. USD 253 is now working cooperatively with the county election office and bond counsel Gilmore and Bell to ensure the district meets all statutory publication deadlines required by law.
“I was made aware of the error about 9 o’clock Wednesday morning,” USD 253 Superintendent Kevin Case said. “What we then needed to do was make sure we were able to get the law interpreted by the bond counsel. The basic two issues were the differences between a print copy and an online copy. We met the letter of the law with the online copy, but we did not meet the letter of the law with the print copy to have 21 clear days in the publication before the election.”
Required bond information was received by The Gazette in accordance with set deadlines, and was published for two weeks, but the notice did not run in its entirety.
“We wanted to make sure the election results were not contested due to a technical error related to the publication and notice,” Case said.
The bond election was originally set to be a mail-in ballot; however, the district was able to reach out to the county election office in time to ensure mail-in ballots were not sent out.
“We have been telling people — preaching, if you will — that the ballots are going to be mailed on Friday and that they’re going to see them in their mailboxes on Saturday or Monday,” Case said. “People should know now that the new, Nov. 5 election will be a walk-in ballot; it will be with the general election where we vote for school board members and city commission.”
At the school board meeting Wednesday evening, there were questions surrounding the Maynard Early Childhood Center facility project and incorporating it in with the bond. Case hopes this extra time can help clarify any questions voters have on any part of the bond project.
“We feel really good about the information that we’ve been sharing and the community meetings we’ve had,” he said. “I think we had everyone geared up for the vote, and obviously it’s disappointing, but our job is to make sure we do things the right way.”
Case also said he hopes the momentum surrounding the bond election will continue in the coming weeks, and encouraged those still wanting to learn more about the project to use this extra time so they can be prepared to vote on Nov 5. A website has been set up to learn more about the project at www.usd253.org/bond.
“We believe this is a really important issue,” Case said. “It’s an investment in our students and our community. We didn’t want there to be anything involved in this process that would cause any doubt about what we’re trying to do. We want to make sure we’re transparent and that we do everything we’re supposed to do in the way we’re supposed to do it. We also want to continue the collaborative relationships we have with all of the parties involved. We realize this is an unfortunate situation, but we also know that we’re going to make the best of it because our kids deserve it and our community deserves it.”