How we got here; Building new would be a first since 1950

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October 31, 2014 - 12:00 AM


The first school to be built in Iola was in 1868.
Jumping ahead to 1916, here’s a record of the success and defeat of bond elections to either renovate or build new schools. 1916 — Iola High School built ($100,000)
1939 — Jefferson and Lincoln elementary schools built ($319,000-$173,422 federal WPA funds)
1950 — McKinley Elementary built ($230,000)
1979 — Voters reject a $5.9 million bond issue to build a new high school north of town.
1980 — Voters approve $810,000 remodel project
1985 — Voters defeat a $5.9 million bond issue to build a new high school.
1988 — Voters approve $3.7 million to renovate the high school (26 percent of bond and interest came from state)
1993 — Voters approve a $4.97 million remodel project for Iola Middle School (46 percent of bond and interest came from state)
Fall 2008 — Facilities committee recommends all-school campus, with a common area for gymnasiums and associated facilities, with a central kitchen and dining areas, as well as a community center and indoor swimming pool at a projected cost of $112 million. Monies would have come from a 35-mill property tax increase and 1-cent sales taxes from Iola and Gas.
A long list of physical deficiencies was compiled by a facilities committee that met for several months earlier this year.
They found glaring needs such as classroom configuration and size at all levels; inability to deliver cutting edge technology support and education; too little space for special education; no nurse stations except in the middle school; buildings so aged they require intensive maintenance; traffic and parking problems; landlocked buildings that make expansion or adequate outdoor facilities difficult or impossible; and safety concerns.
December 2008 — USD 257 school board members unanimously vote to postpone a February 2009 vote on an all-schools campus “until economic conditions improve.”
Spring 2014 — School board members propose a $35 million bond project to build a new elementary school, and complete $10 million worth of renovations to Iola High School and Iola Middle School.
Summer 2014 — Upon passage of a new school finance bill, school board members rescind bond proposal for a more comprehensive plan, to build new elementary and high schools on the north edge of Iola. They favor a $50 million bond package to build new over a $56 million renovation price tag. The board also acquires an option to purchase 96 acres along Oregon Road for $521,000 if the bond is approved. The bond, to be voted on Tuesday, includes financing through a net 9-mill property tax increase and a half-cent sales tax to be split with Iola and state aid.

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