A vote to authorize a bond issue for Newton USD 373 met a hiccup June 12 when one member of the board needed to leave or other business.

 

Board member Renee Erickson needed to leave prior to the end of the agenda item, something she had told board president Dick Koontz before the meeting began. Tim Hodge, who has attended several recent meetings via phone while serving in the Kansas Legislature, asked if she could be reached by phone. He wanted to make sure all seven members of the board voted on the issue before moving forward.

 

"It is a daunting task to ask our community to put up $61 million," Hodge said. "When we were doing this 2014 and thereafter, one of the downsides of not voting for the bond was not having a united front. We have put in two and half to three years on this. ... We wanted a plan where input was gathered and valued, and I want all of us to support it."

 

District officials were able to reach Erickson via phone, causing a delay of the vote and meeting for about 30 minutes.

 

Hodge made a motion to approve the resolution to move forward with the bond, along with the language that will be on the ballot. Matt Treaster seconded the motion.

 

"The unity piece is a big piece for me," Hodge said. "... This is more of a vote to say, we wen through the process and gathered all the inputs. This is to say community, do you want it? ... I would like to have this vote and we, in unity, support the process."

 

The Board of Education voted 4-3 to ultimately ask voters to decide if schools will see grade level realignment, renovations to Newton High School and renovations and expansions for Walton Rural Life Center. The no votes consisted of Erickson voting against with Hobbs and Bunting abstaining from the vote.

 

"I was hoping everyone would support this, but if there are things in this people can not support, they have to vote their conscious," said Matt Treaster.

 

According to documents shared with the board as part of the board packet showed the bond would add more than 8.4 mills to the school property tax levy within USD 373 to create a project fund of more than $59 million and a total of more than $61 million, paid over a 20-year span.

 

The resolution will be published in the Newton Kansan. The election was scheduled Nov. 7, coinciding with a general election that includes three seats on the board.

 

At the work session on May 30 the board agreed to have a resolution prepared that indicated the intention to move forward with a bond election for the purpose of: renovating the original footprint of Newton High School, including the addition of space for storm shelter; upgrading security and safety concerns including such items as replacement of outside doors on storm shelters at three elementary schools, providing alternate sheltering option for Cooper Early Childhood Center, and purchase and installation of security cameras in locations at NHS, Chisholm Middle School, and Santa Fe 5/6 Center; renovations and additions to Walton Rural Life Center to provide permanent classroom space for two-sections of kindergarten through grade five; and purchase of equipment and furnishings to contribute to 21st century learning environments.

The recommendation mirrored a proposal by the Community Vision Team.