Voters in the Wayne Community School District from Lucas, Decatur and Wayne Counties took to the polls on March 1 to cast their votes regarding the Bond Referendum. Voters were called upon to determine whether a $22.5 million general obligation bond would be passed to build a new 7-12 school facility adjacent to the athletic complex. The new building proposed was set to bring forth a 21st century learning environment at a new location where future plans would be to consolidate all WCSD buildings at one site.
As the clock struck 8 p.m. on March 1 with the polls closed, the voters had spoken, as the unofficial results were determined. With the first question on the ballot regarding Public Measure VL, shall the Board of Directors of the Wayne Community School District in the Counties of Wayne, Decatur and Lucas, State of Iowa, be authorized to contract indebtedness and issue General Obligation Bonds in an amount not to exceed $22,500,000 to provide funds to construct, build, furnish and equip a new 7-12 grade facility, including administrative offices and related site improvements, a total of 813 votes were cast. Needing 60 percent to pass, the vote received only 228 total yes votes equivalent to just 28 percent came in while 585 votes were no representing 72 percent.
In the second question on the ballot regarding Public Measure VM, shall the Board of Directors of the Wayne Community School District in the Counties of Wayne, Decatur and Lucas, State of Iowa, be authorized to levy annually a tax exceeding two dollars and seventy cents per thousand dollars, but not exceeding four dollars and five cents per thousand dollars of the assessed value of the taxable property within said school corporation to pay the principal of and interest on bonded indebtedness of said school corporation, it being understood that the approval of this proposition shall not limit the source of payment of the bonds and interest, but shall only operate to restrict the amount of bonds which may be issued, a total of 815 votes were tallied. Again needing 60 percent to pass, 234 yes votes were tallied for 29 percent as 581 no votes were received representing 71 percent.
On the backside of the ballot, in the final question, voters were asked to adopt a revenue purpose statement specifying the use of revenues the Wayne Community School District will receive from the State of Iowa Secure an Advanced Vision for Education Fund. This question regarding the VN Revenue Purpose Statement would pass with a majority vote. As the 809 total votes were tallied, 497 no votes were received for 61 percent with only 312 yes votes being received. Unofficially, all three measures failed at the polls.
In speaking to Wayne CSD Superintendent Mike Still, he stated initially had the vote failed with a minimum of 50 percent yes votes, he hoped small changes could be made to take to a new ballot election in September. However, with the bond failing below 30 percent, he feels those working on this will need to step back for significant revamping to move forward once more.
“We will be having a board work session on Wednesday, March 9 at 6 p.m. where the DLR Group will be in attendance to discuss with the board on what the next steps might be,” stated Still.
With the initial public measure looking to construct a new 7-12 facility, the board can step back and look to making the estimated $18.5 million repairs in the current 7-12 facility however, this will also need to be approved by the voters in a special election.
“We can try to pass voter PPEL, we currently have a board approved PPEL that gives us 33 cents that doesn’t have to go to the voters, but there is a board-approved PPEL that at $1.34, so it would raise taxes $1.34,” Still continued. “We could try that, but you can only bond against that for 10 years so it would only generate approximately $3 million dollars for us. Obviously we would have that revenue purpose statement again that is no increase in taxes to any taxpayer in our district and that was the most disappointing thing of the whole vote as it only received a 39 percent approval and it doesn’t raise anyone’s taxes, the only that does is give the district flexibility in how they spend the money. After 2031, we’re going to get the money anyway, it will just be that we don’t have the flexibility to spend it even on technology or student needs.”
Should the board along with the DLR Group come up with their next step quickly, a new bond referendum could be placed on a special election ballot in September this year, however if more time is needed to determine the course of action, it could be March or September of 2023 before a new bond referendum is presented.
The next Wayne CSD Board meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 21 at 5:30 p.m. with a board work session scheduled for Wednesday, March 9 at 6 p.m.