Wakonda bond issue fails by just one vote; Recount upholds election’s final tally

Wakonda bond issue fails by just one vote; Recount upholds election's final tally by M. Jill Karolevitz A $2.15 million bond issue election for an expansion and remodeling project at Wakonda School failed to pass Nov. 14 by just one vote.

A 60 percent majority was needed, but the yes votes (263) came up shy � just 59.77 percent. The 177 no votes totaled 40.23 percent.

Of the 784 registered voters in the school district, 56 percent cast their ballots.

Although the bond was defeated, Van Moser, Wakonda School Board member, is taking a positive attitude.

�The board is disappointed, but we�re taking a positive approach,� he said. �We met Tuesday night after the vote and decided that we will move ahead fairly quickly for another vote. A date has not been determined � we�d like to meet with our architect and bonding consultant first � but I think it will probably be within the next 45 days that another vote will take place.�

Moser added that there was no sense of failure among the school board members.

�The way I look at it, I don�t think we failed in any area,� he said. �I would have been more disappointed if the bond election would have failed by 100 or 200 votes. But this was so close.�

As the project was explained to voters over the last several weeks, �there was no spitfire damnation opposition,� Moser said, �but I think those who were against the bond issue in the beginning were going to vote no � no matter what. They just don�t want their taxes to go up.�

The bond would raise taxes an estimated $2.40 per $1,000 valuation.

Wakonda School Business Manager Carol Mayer was disappointed with the outcome of the election, but she was pleased with voter turnout.

�I was encouraged by the number that came to vote,� she said. �But when it�s this close, it�s really disappointing that it didn�t pass.�

A recount was conducted, but �there were no shades of gray,� Mayer said. �Everything matched up.�

The bond issue is for a new, one-story addition for office space, as well as elementary, special education, Early Childhood and Chapter I classrooms. The structure would be built on the eastern side of the existing school.

Remodeling plans were also proposed for the building currently in use. Those include the installation of an elevator in the stage area of the old gym, new heating and air conditioning, moving office space into former grade school classrooms and installing safety features, such as higher stairwell railings on the second floor. Parking areas would be improved and a joint city-school library would also be part of the new addition.

School Librarian Kay Lueth is a strong supporter of the overall project, but has particular interest in the possibility of new library facilities.

�I�m a little down because the bond issue didn�t pass, but I also say ?let�s do it again.� This is something we need to do and the sooner the better,� she said.

Cramped facilities have prompted discussion of expansion at Wakonda School for many years.

Superintendent Ron Flynn noted in a Sept. 1 article that one of the problems is that all students � kindergarten through 12th grade � are in one building. The new addition would move the younger students into a building of their own, giving secondary students more room. He added that new technology, such as computers and distance learning equipment, also takes up more space, which has put the school into a crunch

for rooms.

Besides increasing the number of classrooms, advantages of the proposed building project are many, according to Flynn. The new classrooms would be larger. The elevator will put the school into ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance, should a disabled student enroll at Wakonda. And the city-school library will accommodate more than just students, with easy access for the public.

Flynn was unavailable for comment on Wednesday after the election. But in September, he noted his firm belief that the Wakonda School must move ahead.

�We have to be conscious of the future,� he said. �We have to look at what other schools are doing. That�s not to say we�re simply trying to keep up with the Joneses when you look at the building that�s been done at schools in neighboring communities. We just think it�s time for us to make some progress.�

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