• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Board to hold special school tax election on June 26

The Woodford County Board of Education on Monday voted unanimously to hold a special election on Tuesday, June 26, which will allow voters to decide the fate of a proposed 5.5 cent property tax increase to pay for the construction of a new high school.

The board voted last Monday to dismiss its appeal of County Clerk Sandy Jones’s certification of a recall petition, which opposed the 5.5 cent (per $100 of assessed property value) facilities tax for a new school. The basis for withdrawing its appeal in Woodford Circuit Court was a potential delay in building the high school and the expense of further litigation, board members said.

Although the board voted to give its legal consultant, Kerry Harvey, the authority to appeal the petition’s certification, board Chair Ambrose Wilson IV said on Monday that “Mr. Harvey was employed to ensure that there was a special election, not to avoid a special election.” Harvey helped the board navigate the legal issues of having a special election, Wilson said.

Earlier, Margie Jacobs, an architect employed by the district on previous construction projects, said the cost of building a new high school will likely rise by 4 to 5.5 percent annually.

Coupled with projected increases in interest rates in the coming months, the board acknowledged that delaying a high school construction project by six months (if the tax question was placed on the November general election ballot) could cost thousands, and perhaps millions of dollars.

“Those numbers tell us we don’t need to wait,” said board member Karen Brock. “Because then we’re wasting the taxpayers’ money.”

Besides saving taxpayer dollars on interest rates and construction costs, board Vice Chair Debby Edelen said, “Every time we wait, there’s another year of kids that don’t get the benefit of this (new) high school.”

“We’re all really looking forward to the election,” said board member Sherri Springate. “Our children really would benefit so much from the new facility, the new high school. Our community would benefit so much from the new facility, the new high school.”

Dani Bradley, a parent volunteering on a grassroots “I Support Our Schools” committee, informed board members that if they had chosen to put the facilities tax question on the ballot in November, the cost of a second property tax billing would be higher than $19,000 to pay for mailing and postage.

That total, which Bradley said she obtained from the Woodford County Sheriff’s Office, does not include any hours paid to personnel working on a second billing and would likely offset the cost that the school board would incur to hold a special election (estimated at $50,000), she said.

School projects

The board approved a project application to seek state approval to move forward with an expansion of the cafeteria and kitchen at Southside Elementary School, at an estimated cost of $945,395. The documents show that $475,036 would come from the district’s building fund, $254,563 from the capital outlay fund and $38,228.35 from the general fund.

The cafeteria and kitchen expansion will alleviate a need to extend the school’s lunch period over a three-hour period, schools Superintendent Scott Hawkins told board members last week.

Also, the board approved a project application to make district-wide security improvements to every school in the district at an estimated cost of $58,440. The cost will come out of the district’s capital outlay fund, which is restricted to make debt payments or cover the cost of improving facilities.

The security improvements involve the replacement of existing safety glazing on security vestibules with either bulletproof or impact resistant clear glazing or an opaque bulletproof panel.

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