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Trustees call for May bond election

by Dolores Hamilton
After almost four years of study, Iowa Park CISD school trustees unanimously approved calling a $13.7-million bond election at their meeting on Thursday.

If approved by voters in the school district, the money will pay for major renovations at the high school and athletic complex, both over 40 years old, the Votech-Ag building, and internet, security and miscellaneous needs on all four campuses.

In May, 2008, the school board received recommendations from the Facilities Task Force, a committee made up of local citizens and formed to study facility conditions and needs in the district.

After touring each campus and many months of study, the task force found the facilities to be in need of extensive updating and recommended the work needed on each campus. The architectural firm hired by the board estimated the cost for all of the work to be around $36-million, which was above the district’s legal bonding capacity. The district’s current maximum bonding capacity is $29-million.

Since that time, the trustees have been working to come up with a plan that would take care of part of the problems now, and do the remainder of the work in seven to 10 years.

The facility committee had identified the middle school as the campus needing the most work, but the proposed cost of renovation was almost the same as building a new middle school campus. The tentative plan is to build a new high school in seven to 10 years and move the middle school to the current high school building.

In the weeks leading up to the bond election, the Leader will carry stories with information about each proposal included in the bond package.

The school’s financial advisor, Murphy Davis, was at the meeting to discuss bond financing with the board members. “I know how long the board has been looking at this,” Davis said. “This board and previous boards have talked about what they need to make this a top quality school system and what is in the best interest of the kids.” “No one likes to have an expense, but if you don’t fix something after it reaches a certain age or a certain deterioration, it starts costing more when you have to fix it finally, than fixing it at the right time,” he added. Davis said going back 40, 50, or 60 years, he couldn’t find a time when you could issue bonds for financing of construction lower than it is now.

Superintendent Jerry Baird said he had received numerous requests asking if local citizens would have an opportunity to purchase bonds. Davis said they could. There will be an order period when everyone puts in their request. They should call the underwriter, identify themselves and that they have an interest in purchasing bonds. The minimum amount to purchase bonds is $5,000.

At the last meeting, some of the trustees had concerns about building new tennis courts at the middle school, because the plan is to build a new high school or middle school in seven to 10 years. At Thursday’s meeting, the school’s architect Jackie Lebow said he had moved the new middle school tennis courts to the high school and added lighting for the courts into the latest proposals.

The bond issue will be included in the May 12 elections.

In other business, the board approved calling a Trustee Election for May 12, designated polling places, and appointed judges.

Four places are up for election on the school board and include Places 1, 2, 3 and 7. Early voting may be done April 30 through May 8 at city hall or the school administration building. On May 12, election day, ballots may be cast at Friendly Door Senior Citizens Center for voters in Precincts 32, 33, 39, 45, and 47, and at West Wichita Co. Coop for those in Precincts 11, 14 in Wichita County and Precinct 9 in Archer County.

Election judge at Friendly Door is Frances Leath and alternate judge is Jerrye Pearce.

At West Wichita Co. Coop, Pat Cravens was named judge and Judy Williams alternate judge.

Contracts of the following were approved: Steve Moody, assistant superintendent; Darla Biddy, principal W.F. George Middle School; Vickie Jordan, principal, Bradford Elementary; Debra Brandt, principal, Kidwell Elementary; Janet Bowling, counselor, W.F. George Middle School; Cari DiMarzio, counselor, Bradford Elementary; Vicki Adams, counselor, Kidwell Elementary; Scott Ponder, athletics director.

Also, Sharon Godwin, business manager; Jonathan Clubb, tax collector; Mike Parchman, technology coordinator; Tracy Catlin, counselor, Iowa Park High School; Tim Bartram, Iowa Park High School; Gary Green, vice principal, Iowa Park High School; Jodi Schlaud, academic coordinator; and Brandi Swenson, vice principal, W.F. George Middle School.

The local policy regarding STARR testing and class rank was approved. High school principal Tim Bartram explained the policy to the board. “This is the least harmful or detrimental to our kids while the state is still waiting on their decisions on what they are going to do,” he said. He emphasized that the policy will be a continuous living document that has the ability to change and grow with state policies.

Also approved were two additional membership requirements in the Cheerleader Handbook. They are:

No. 7 - Upon administrative review, a candidate who is injured or has severe medical illness that prevents them from trying out will be allowed to tryout by submitting a recent video that meets all tryout criteria. Candidates must provide a certified doctor’s excuse and are expected to receive a medical release within a reasonable amount of time to prepare for camp. Videos may be of practice, games, or competition footage. Video footage should be prior to current injury. Video or electronic tryouts will be reviewed by the administrator overseeing tryouts prior to submission to the judges. Only activities (jumps, sheers, tumbling, and dances) meeting tryout guidelines will be allowed.

No. 8. To be eligible to try out for IPHS cheerleader/mascot students must be enrolled at IPHS before the tryout practices begin.