Should voters approve a new school in an upcoming bond election, Walton Rural Life Center would be closed in favor of a new building at S.W. 24th and Old Main. And that means concern over whether such a school could house livestock for its agricultural emphasis.

"There have been questions and concerns as to whether that (livestock) is allowed in the city limits," said Bob Myer, city manager. "We had researched this in the past. We feel the existing animal control regulations already contain exemptions for an educational institution, especially one regulated by the USDA."

Walton has served as a charter school with a rural life/agricultural emphasis. The school uses project-based learning techniques to focus on agriculture. 

On Tuesday, the city commission approved resolution support to continue the educational program of the charter school — including the storage or livestock — within the city limits if a new school is constructed. The resolution formalizes the city's willingness to make changes to the animal control ordinances if needed for the school to host livestock and maintain a rural life school in the city limits. 

"This does not constitute the city taking a position as to whether voters should, or should not, pass the bond issue," Myers said. 

The possible construction of a new elementary school is the second question of a two-question bond issue. The first portion of the bond issue is the use of $61 million for renovations throughout the district. The second portion of the bond, which can only be approved if the first question is approved, would mark more than $24 million for a new elementary school. Approval of the first question and failure of the second question would mean renovations to the current Walton Rural Life Center.

An agreement was reached last month between Unified School District 373 and a landowner for the possible purchase of land on S.W. 24th Street near the Old Main intersection.

On June 24, the USD 373 Board of Education approved a motion to authorize superintendent Deb Hamm to sign an agreement between a landowner and the district. The land purchase will be contingent upon the passage of the bond and will be used for the new school if Question 2 of the bond passes. The seller of the land is Ron Harder, of Harder Properties.

“We are excited to have this space for the new school and the rural life program if question two passes,” Hamm said. “We believe that this space, as well as having a school built specifically for its needs, will help the program flourish.”

Ten acres of the 25 acres acquired will be donated, while 15 acres will be purchased at the rate of $0.50 per square foot or $21,780 per acre. The total cost to the district will be $326,700. That money will come from capital outlay funds.

The agreement will be closed on by Dec. 2, 2019.