CLINTON — The Clinton School Board voted unanimously on Monday to invalidate a petition presented by a group of community members who sought to repeal a resolution instituting the district’s continued participation in the Instructional Support Levy and put the issue on a special election ballot.

By not accepting the petition, the school district will continue participation in the ISL from July 1, 2008, through June 30, 2013.

According to Clinton School District Superintendent Randy Clegg, the petition submitted Aug. 6 did not have the required number of valid signatures nor did it have the correct wording.

“Iowa statue does provide a process for constituents to request a vote on the ISL,” Clegg explained. “It’s a very simple process, you need to get signatures, no less than 100 signatures or 30 percent of the number of people who voted at the last regular school election.”

In this case, that was nearly 400 signatures. The original petition contained 422 signatures, but an analysis by Clinton County Auditor and Commissioner of Elections Charlie Sheridan showed that only 374 out of the 422 signatures that accompanied the petition were verified as eligible voters.

“As you recall, at the 11th hour, the petitioners gave us a list of 28 names that they claimed that they could validate the signatures,” Clegg reminded the board. “So the county auditor, again, went through that list and could not verify a sufficient number of signatures.”

Clegg told the board that Board Secretary and District Business Director Gayle Isaac also went through the list to validate the signatures.

“What we know definitively is that there are three signatures that we cannot validate,” Clegg continued.

“Two of them, the property doesn’t even exist. Gayle went out and looked at those properties, personally. A school resource officer also went out and validated that these properties absolutely did not exist,” he said.

“The third one is a business downtown that the signature was not the owner of the business. Gayle went to see if there was an apartment, there did not appear to be an apartment.”

Clegg told the board that “it appears without doing any more legwork there are insufficient number of signatures — 399 for the petition, so it would be invalidated on that basis alone.”

Clegg also said the language on the petition had not changed.

“The courts have already ruled in the case of Peterson versus the Davenport Community School District in 2001, which dealt with the Instructional Support Levy,” he noted.

Clegg also said the Iowa Attorney General issued a letter of advice in a similar tax issue. That letter stated: “Statutory compliance is critical to the effectiveness of a petition for referendums on a public measure. Persons signing petitions are entitled to know the effect of the requested election and the effect of failing to hold an election.”

Clegg told the board he felt the language used in the petition “clearly does not follow statute. It clearly does not follow along with the attorney general’s letter of advice that the signers need to know the impact.”

Ever since the community originally passed the levy in 2003, the board has increased the levy rate by 1 percent each year since its inception, with a levy rate of 9 percent being set for this school year. Ten percent is the maximum that can be levied.

By increasing the levy rate by 1 percent, an extra $200,000 was added to the 2007-2008 budget. At a levy rate of 9 percent, Clinton residents are being assessed a property tax rate of 26 cents per $1,000 property evaluation and an 8 percent state income tax surtax rate.