Camanche middle school

Camanche Middle School.

CAMANCHE — One month after more than half its members opposed scheduling a bond referendum for school improvements, the Camanche School Board has unanimously approved putting the issue in front of district voters.

The school board Monday night approved placing the bond referendum on the Sept. 8 ballot to cover the costs of renovations to the elementary, middle and high schools and new construction at the middle and high schools.

Superintendent Tom Parker said the district is looking at a maximum of a $2.70 increase per $1,000 taxable valuation, which would take the district to a maximum of $12.9 million for the project. The project must be within $12.9 million for the district to ask only one question on the bond referendum.

Camanche School Board member Peg Wolf, who at last month’s meeting was against holding the referendum vote in September, now supports it. She said the tax for the bond, if it is approved by voters, will not be applied right away, and said this would give the economy time to recover prior to taxing school district residents.

“I was kind of the one that put on the brakes last meeting because of my concern about the economy,” Wolf said. “And I’ve talked to a lot of people since then, including a farmer with a lot of land who was going to be impacted a lot. And after discussions, they’re all in favor of this. And that’s not a cross section of the whole community but it kind of made me think maybe my concerns aren’t as valid as I thought that they would be.”

Board Secretary Roxanne Aude said if the issue passes in September, she anticipates the bond would not be applied until fiscal year 2022.

Board member Travis Baker said taxes being pushed back that far has to be a selling point.

“This needs to be a selling point if we choose to move forward in September,” Baker said. “This type of thing needs to be publicized as much as we can publicize it that the actual hit on taxpayers, it’s not instantaneous.”

Baker received feedback that it is not the right time to seek a vote on the proposed bond. He said he and his wife work in two different industries and know quite a few people who are furloughed, laid off or working less hours because the businesses cannot pay their workers.

Board member Albert McManus said he was “pretty hesitant last meeting” about a September vote but said he believes it is the right time to proceed with a vote.

Board member Stacy Kinkaid believes residents are looking for optimism and hope, adding that offering this project helps the economy continue to rebound.

“I know our community wants to see progress,” Kinkaid said. “Whether they want to see it this early or not I think it’s up to the voters. I really think that the voters in Camanche will tell us whether they want this project to happen or not and I think we should put it in their hands.”

Board President Brad Weber supported proceeding with the project, citing the amount of time the board has worked to move the plans forward.

If the district proceeds with a September vote, it cannot place the vote back on the ballot until September 2021 at the earliest.

“So no matter when we have the election, September or March, if either one fails, the next election date is next September or November,” Wolf said. ”I say let’s just do it sooner than later. Find out.“

Matt Wolfert of Bray Architects said if the board approved the September date for a vote, Bray Architects would immediately go right into communications and community engagement planning work.

He said to be proactive they have already created a preliminary schedule of when they would begin preparing print pieces and social media and engaging local newspapers and media to make sure they have as much coverage as possible. He said they would start that planning work immediately.