CLINTON — The Clinton School Board will decide tonight whether to invalidate a petition asking the board to put the renewal of the Instructional Support Levy on a special election ballot.

The ISL was approved by the voters in 2002 and is due to end next year.

On June 21, the board passed the resolution of intent to continue participation in the ISL and on July 9, held a public hearing and then passed the resolution. The public had 28 days to ask for a special election to be held.

On Aug. 6, a petition was filed by community members, with Board Secretary and District Business Director Gayle Isaac to submit the following resolution to the voters: “Shall the Clinton Community School District, of Clinton, Iowa, be authorized to levy a 1 percent increase from 8 percent to 9 percent, the assessed rate of 26 cents per $1,000 property evaluation and to also increase to 8 percent the state income tax surtax rate from the support of the Instructional Support Levy; with the collection of the levy commencing July 1, 2008, through June 30, 2013.”

The petition has to have 401 valid signatures. But according to Clinton School District Superintendent Randy Clegg, the petition was worded incorrectly and the petition did not have the required number of signatures.

“The statute says once you adopt a resolution, the public has 28 days to ask the board to rescind its action or place it before the voters,” Clegg told the Clinton Herald in a phone interview.

But that’s not what the petition said, he claims.

“Their petition actually calls for an election on an instructional support program that is worded in such a way that it will not work,” he explained.

The petition also failed to be presented with the required 401 signatures of eligible voters as required under Iowa Code Section 257.18(2).

The petition was forwarded to the Clinton County Auditor, Commissioner of Elections, Charlie Sheridan. He reviewed the petition to determine if it contained the required number of signatures. An analysis provided to the district showed that only 374 verifiable signatures of eligible voters were on the petition.

During tonight’s meeting, the board will go into closed session as provided in Section 21.5(1)(c) of the open meetings law to discuss strategies with counsel. When the meeting reopens, Clegg said the board will act on a resolution to invalidate the petition.

“That will be the time for the board to consider a resolution which describes that there are an insufficient number of signatures and the petition language deviates sufficiently from the statutory procedure to be valid,” he explained.

If the board moves and adopts the resolution, the Instructional Support Levy will continue to be in place for the next five years.

But Clegg says that if for some reason the petitioners can show that they can validate the signatures or provide information to the auditor’s office, the board may have to table the resolution to validate the petition until the petitioners can provide enough evidence to satisfy the board.

If that happens Clegg says “what the board will do then is rescind its action of July 9 and redo a new resolution calling for a new public hearing and go ahead and schedule a full election.”

The petitioners have been contacted by written notice and will be given the opportunity to be heard by the board and to present information or materials to the board to validate the petition.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in Clinton City Hall.