Archive for Thursday, July 19, 2007

Pro-bond group starts activities with mail-in ballots due to be posted next month

July 19, 2007

Supporters of the upcoming school bond referendums met July 11 to learn more about the issues and to brainstorm ways of campaigning for them.

De Soto USD 232 Superintendent Sharon Zoellner also was present to provide information about the details of the two issues.

The issues, totaling $64.5 million, will be considered separately on the ballot.

The first question calls for $51 million in building expansions, land acquisition, technology, security enhancements and an early childhood education center. The second question calls for $19.5 million in artificial turf for De Soto and Mill Valley high schools and a new theater at each school. The first question must pass for the second question to pass.

Zoellner said the mill levy of the district has gone down over the years. In 2006, the district levied 69.693 mills.

"The mill levy is lower than any of the other years," she said as she presented a graph with the mill levy from each year back to 2002. "When we built schools, it was higher."

However, at Monday night's school board meeting director of budget and finance Ken Larsen presented the proposed budget that included a proposed mill levy of 71.409 mills, which is about a 1.7 mill increase.

According to district's prepared packet on the school bond issue, question one will cost a homeowner with a $150,000 fair market value home about $6.26 per month. If both question one and two pass, question two would cost a homeowner with the same home an additional $2.38 per month.

Bond supporter and Vote Yes Committee member Chris Akin said the committee will be finalizing plans to campaign for the election at upcoming meetings. Johnson County Election records show, a Vote Yes Committee spent about $5,600 in support last fall on the unsuccessful $105.7 million bond referendum that failed in November. It also was reported, the group had $2,000 left after the vote.

Ballots for this year's bond referendums will be mailed to voters in the district starting Aug. 18. The last day to register to vote in the election will be Sept. 4. The Johnson County Election Office must receive ballots by noon Sept. 18.

Voters last faced a bond issue less than a year ago in November 2006. The bond failed on a slim margin of 33 votes when district residents voted against two new elementary schools, a child development center, expansions to Mill Valley and De Soto high schools and land acquisition.

Last year, the district's enrollment was about 5,348 students and the district estimates enrollment to be about 5,700 students for the 2007-2008 school year. According to the informational packet provided by the district, officials expect about 1,000 new students in the next three years.

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