District ready to educate voters

In May, the Clinton School Board chose this $62 million renovation plan for Clinton High School. The district will launch a campaign this month to try to convince voters to fund the project.File photo

CLINTON – The campaign to fund a renovation of Clinton High School is set to kick off at the next Clinton School Board meeting, District Superintendent Gary DeLacy said Monday.

The steering committee for a proposed CHS renovation will meet Wednesday and will have a presentation, which will probably serve as the kickoff, during the Aug. 26 school board meeting, DeLacy told the board.

The Clinton School District will ask voters to support a bond issue to renovate the high school as early as March 2020 and will spend the next several months educating residents about the project.

In May, the school board chose a $62 million renovation plan that would be completed in seven phases and would replace the school theater and add parking around the building. The plan, prepared by FRK Architects and Engineers, will add a three-story academic wing and media center on the east side of the school and construct an arts wing with a new auditorium on the south side, to the east of Yourd gym.

The district's job now is to "educate the community" as to why the school needs the renovations and why residents should approve the bond measure, DeLacy said in May.

Legislative changes have limited the days on which school districts can have elections for bond issues. "You do not get as many chances to run it," DeLacy said, so the district needs to do it right the first time.

The first step in financing the renovation will be asking voters to approve the 1% sales tax that funds school infrastructure, DeLacy said Monday. "We need to do that whether the Clinton High School expansion goes or not."

The Iowa Legislature extended the Secure an Advanced Vision for Education tax until 2051, but the matter must go to voters again, DeLacy said.

"They approved it in the past, and we're using those funds right now," DeLacy said.

"This is property tax relief," he said. If the district uses SAVE money for the project, it's not using property taxes for the project.

"If you didn't have that, the only place you could get it is to run a bond," DeLacy said.

"I think the language of that is crucial," said School Board President Eric Gettes.

The passage of SAVE requires a simple majority, Chief Financial Officer Cindy McAleer said.

The district bonded against sales tax revenue until 2029 to fund the new middle school and Jefferson and Eagle Heights elementary schools, DeLacy said earlier this year. With SAVE extended through 2051, the district can borrow against an additional 22 years to fund the high school renovation.

A native of Centerville, Winona comes to the Clinton Herald after writing for the Ottumwa Courier for two years.