Board OKs potential school site



July 30, 2014 - 12:00 AM

Pieces are in place to allow local voters to decide this fall whether to build a new elementary and high school on the north edge of Iola.
During a special meeting Tuesday, USD 257 Board of Education members approved a measure, 4-0, that will put the bond issue to a vote in November. Voting in favor were Tony Leavitt, Darrel Catron, Doug Dunlap and Don Snavely. Board members Mark Burris, Jack McFadden and Buck Quincy were absent.
Board members also agreed to purchase 95 acres of land just north of Oregon Road, near the Prairie Spirit Trail, if the school vote passes.
If voters give their endorsement, the state will pay 51 percent of the nearly $50 million project. Iola City Council also has agreed to put a half-cent sales tax referendum on the ballot, with a portion of the proceeds going to school construction.
If approved, the district’s ad valorem tax levy would increase to about 61 mills, or a net of 9 mills more than today’s 52.35 levy. That means the owner of a $100,000 house would pay about $105 more in taxes annually than this year.
It should be noted USD 257’s local option budget levy will drop about eight mills lower for 2014-15, thanks to Supreme Court-mandated legislation earlier this year make education funding more equitable. Otherwise, property taxes would be about 17 mills higher.
Meanwhile, the city’s sales tax rate would bump up to 8.9 percent.
Both measures must pass for the project to proceed. The bonds would be retired over 30 years.
Also Tuesday, board members agreed to a contract with David and Joyce Austin, Parsons, to purchase the land for the prospective school site. No purchase price was announced. The sale is contingent on the school bond issue passing in November.
In other news, Penny Herder was hired as a paraprofessional at Jefferson Elementary School.
The next school board meeting  is Aug. 11.

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