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Petition Ready for Signatures: FDCSD Board Approves Bond Questions Voters Will Face - from The Messenger

November 17, 2015

By BRANDON L. SUMMERS

The Fort Dodge Community School District board approved its petition for a special referendum in February.

The ballot will ask voters two questions.

Question A requests $21,790,000 to provide funds "to construct, build, improve, furnish and equip a new elementary building on the Duncombe Elementary school site and to improve the site; and to install safety and security improvements at all existing school facilities."

The current Duncombe Elementary building, closed in August due to structural concerns, would be demolished for the new facility.

Question B requests $6,670,000 to provide funds "to remodel, repair, renovate, improve, furnish and equip portions of the existing high school building and to construct an addition to the existing high school building and improve the site."

A new wrestling room and a multi-purpose room are among planned improvements, Doug Van Zyl, FDCSD superintendent, said.

The language in the second question is being kept vague, though, to allow the board greater flexibility in how the renovations are done, Van Zyl said.

"I would liken it to this. Take a look at the first question, where it says, install safety and security improvements to all buildings. Well, that may be different for one building as compared to another," he said. "If you say, we're just going to do cameras and floor upgrades, that's all you have the flexibility to do."

Board member Matt Wagner emphasized that the group must be forthright with its plans and pledges to the community.

"Prior to the vote, we're going to have to be very specific about what those plans are," he said. "I won't approve any plans that are different from what we've sold. If we want to ask people to vote yes to raise their property taxes for what we're asking for here, we have to stick with what we presented."

Board member Bill Kent said the language allows the board to both uphold the community's desires, but also decide on the best way to implement needed renovations.

"I don't think we're doing anything that restricts our flexibility," he said. "I am fine with the wording as it is."

Ahead of the referendum, architects will be hired to begin planning for the new elementary facility, as well as senior high renovations.

Work will begin as soon as possible on Duncombe.

"They will hit the ground running," he said. "And then be able to bring, based on this list, in your direction, as much information as they can bring."

Plans for renovations, in the meantime, will be readied for implementation once the school year has ended.

Before the day of the vote, designs for the new elementary school and plans for the senior high renovations will be made available to the public.

The petition will now be finalized and given to volunteer community members to collect signatures. A total of 89 signatures are needed for the special election.

The FDCSD board expects to have the petition returned for its Dec. 14 meeting.

"Petition ready for signatures" The Messenger 17 Nov 2015: A1

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