Costs of a possible special election for a bond issue by Newton USD 373 to renovate school buildings was presented to the board of education Monday, with a decision looming on what type of election to have.
According to Superintendent Deb Hamm, the school needs to give 120 days notice to the county clerk's office if a mail ballot is desired.
"We are approaching upon that very quickly," Hamm said. "... The election officials do an excellent job of managing elections in this county. ... I have the utmost faith in them to do whatever kind of balloting the board will decide to do."
On April 9, board members unanimously approved the new election date of Sept. 3 to set the wheels in motion (again) for the official approval of the Newton school district's bond application. Setting the date would allow the bond application to be placed back on the State Board of Education's agenda for May, streamlining the approval process when a state bond cap resets on July 1. Newton was denied earlier this year, as there was not enough state funding under a legislative funding cap.
The bond issue contains two questions — asking for $61.3 million for remodeling at Newton High School and security and HVAC upgrades at the middle and elementary schools; and a possible $24.4 million bond for a new elementary school on the southern part of Newton.
According to a document prepared by the county clerk's office in January, the cost of a special election using traditional voting and polling sites costs between $14,225 and $16,400 — approximately $3.16 to $3.64 per vote cast — based on a 30 percent voter turnout. The cost of a mail election is estimated at $18,000, or about $2.48 per voted ballot if voter turnout is 50 percent.
According to the document, the turnout of a traditional city/school election is typically 20 percent.
Hamm told the board Monday that county clerk Rick Piepho has been invited to a future board meeting to answer questions of the board as it attempts to make a decision on what kind of election to host for the bond issue.
In other business, the board:
• Met in executive session to discuss land acquisition.
• Met in executive session to discuss personnel.
• Accepted a gift of $11,500 from Harvey County United Way on behalf of USD 373 Latchkey.
• Accepted the gift of a washer and dryer from Heartland Credit Union on behalf of Northridge Elementary School.
• Accepted the gift of staff training from Bill and Mary Carpenter on behalf of Cooper Early Education Center/Parents as Teachers.
• Reappointed Brandon Cheeks, assistant principal at Santa Fe Middle School, to the Newton Recreation Commission for a three-year term, starting July 1.
• Approved Kansas Association of School Boards' recommended policy updates.
• Approved science resources for Newton High School.
• Approved the use of Formative Assessment System for Teachers in replacement of AIMSweb for reading and math screening. Cost of adoption is $23,150.