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District debates when to involve public in bond issue





Hays USD 489 Board of Education members agreed Monday night there should be an informational meeting about a possible bond issue being considered, but not when or where.

It will be an open meeting, but not a public hearing. However, some invited community members could get a chance to speak.

The board as a whole hasn't designated a choice of scenarios requiring a bond to complete, but Greg Schwartz and James Leiker have said their choice is to consolidate the five elementary schools into two and build a new high school.

The board also twice has asked HTK Architects to compile additional information about that scenario. They will present a third version that includes athletic facilities, practice courts and fields at a work session Nov. 5.

The four board members -- vice president Schwartz, Marty Patterson, Rich Kraemer and Leiker -- attending discussed when to elicit public comment.

"You've still got three board members who haven't heard most of this, and do we have consensus?" Deputy Superintendent Richard Cain said about having the public attend the Nov. 5 work session.

"I think we need to get stakeholders (involved)," Kraemer said.

"I agree, but I don't think they need to see disagreement or conflict among the board, which might occur," Cain said.

"I think we're all generally on the same page," Schwartz said.

Kraemer said even if there is consensus among the board, "I want some input from a larger body of individuals."

"It might be best to get to one (option); then go out and have some community meetings, maybe at all of the schools," Schwartz said.

A group of 40 to 50 people will be asked to serve on committees to run a campaign for the bond issue, said Dustin Avey, senior vice president for PiperJaffray, investment banking and asset management firm.

"Your job is to be more informational," Avey told the board. "Really the people who you want to take this project and run with it, think about the co-chairs. It's not Richard (Cain) or me being up front presenting it. We'll be guiding the process, but we're going to want somebody in the community taking ownership of it and being the face of the campaign and project."

He suggested forming four committees -- one speaking to businesses, church and civic organizations; a second preparing promotional materials such as flyers, brochures, buttons, editorials and ads; a third to encourage voter registration; and a fourth for fundraising.

"You can't use ... district dollars, so this committee will be in charge of fundraising, developing a budget for what their expenses will be," Avey said.