Polls will open again in Wakonda; School bond election slated for Jan. 16

Polls will open again in Wakonda; School bond election slated for Jan. 16 by M. Jill Karolevitz Voters in the Wakonda School District will head to the polls Jan. 16, 2001 to cast their ballots again on a $2.15 million bond issue for an expansion and remodeling project at Wakonda School.

The measure 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.

�After the votes were counted in November, we decided that it was so close that we had to try again,� said Wakonda Superintendent Ron Flynn. �We had also talked to other people who had been involved in bond issues before, and they suggested if it didn�t pass and the vote was close, we should have another election as soon as we could.�

Flynn added that the decision to hold another election was made during the Dec. 11 Wakonda School Board meeting.

�Nothing has changed,� he said. �The amount is still the same.�

The polling place, however, has changed. Registered voters from all precincts of the Wakonda School District will vote in the kindergarten room at Wakonda School. Polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on the day of the election.

Flynn hopes to educate voters about the remodeling and expansion project even better this time around.

�We have been hearing that some of the people who voted no last time may have been misinformed,� he said. �Maybe we didn�t make ourselves clear, but there are those who were under the impression that the remodeling project on the existing building wouldn�t address the heating problem. That�s not the case. About $250,000 has been budgeted to upgrade the heating and cooling system and purchase a new boiler for the old school building.�

A public meeting has been scheduled for Jan. 11 in the old gym at 7:30 p.m. to share information about the bond issue, he added.

The bond issue, which would raise taxes an estimated $2.40 per $1,000 valuation, 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. In addition to heating and cooling system improvements in the existing building, proposed remodeling plans include the installation of an elevator in the stage area of the old gym, 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.

Regardless of the Jan. 16 election outcome, Flynn said something will need to be done with the school building now in use.

�It was built in 1922. We have to do something about it, regardless of the election results,� he said. �The school board has authorized architect Glenn Mannes to start drawing up plans for remodeling if the bond issue doesn�t pass. We�ll still need to address the heating and cooling system, put a wider door on the old gym, replace windows and doors, install an elevator and higher stairwell railings.

�But we�re optimistic about the outcome of this election,� Flynn added.

Voter registration for the school bond election will close on Jan. 2, 2001. Failure to register by this date will cause forfeiture

of voting rights for this election. Those who are in doubt about being registered can call the county auditor at (605) 677-7120. Registration may be completed during regular business hours at the county auditor�s office, municipal finance office, and locations which provide driver�s licenses, food stamps, AFDC, WIC, military recruitment, and assistance to the disabled as provided by the Department of Human Services. Persons with disabilities and elderly voters may contact the county auditor for information and special assistance in voter registration, absentee voting, or polling place accessibility.

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

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.

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