USD 489 school board forms bond issue committees

Tim Hrenchir
Hays Daily News

Hays USD 489 has waited a "credible amount of time" since its last unsuccessful bond issue election in 2017 and should schedule another vote to ask the public to issue bonds to pay for needed improvements, Superintendent Ron Wilson said last week.

Some people will be critical of the process, regardless of how the district goes about doing it, Wilson told USD 489 board members at their May 17 meeting.

Still, he said, "If every time the mailman heard the dog barking, he stopped in his tracks or changed direction, he'd never get the mail delivered."

USD 489 board members subsequently voted 7-0 to form three committees expected to begin meeting in late June to start crafting plans for the bond issue.

Those will be an executive committee consisting of USD 489 administrators and board members, a planning committee made up of educators and a vision committee consisting of community members.

Last week's vote authorizes Wilson to start gathering more information to prepare for a potential bond issue election, said board member Lance Bickle.

DLR, the district's architectural firm, suggested the election take place in April 2022 but no timeline has been set.

The board is not rushing into the process, emphasized board member Tammy Wellbrock.

"I think there is a word in here that is important to stress, and that is 'possible' April 2022 bond election," she said.

The district has yet to create a plan or set a dollar amount for the bond.

Voters by a margin of 61% to 39% in November 2017 defeated a proposed $78.5 million bond issue proposed by the district.

The district's voters previously defeated a $94 million bond issue during a mail ballot election in June 2016.

Wilson was not with USD 489 at the time of either of those elections.

USD 489 board members heard last month that a telephone survey of 300 randomly selected patrons indicated the district's residents would support issuing bonds to address its long-term facility needs.

The board hear results of that survey on April 12 from Rick Nobles, president of ExcellenceK12, a Missouri-based company that helps school districts learn about their patrons' perceptions.

Survey results showed 68% of respondents would "strongly support" or "support" a general bond issue if it were to take place now, with only 19% saying they would "oppose" or "strongly oppose" such an issue,  Nobles said.