SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU)– In May 2023, Governor Kim Reynolds signed a bill limiting how many times a school district can hold a bond election, from two to three times per year to just once on November 7th. The change went into effect this July, causing schools to expedite their plans.
“To be honest with you I wasn’t following closely, obviously closely enough, because it came as a surprise to me,” said Chad Shook, superintendent of Lawton-Bronson Community School district.
“It was something that was on the radar and you know we were hoping that was not going to go through, but it did,” said Ken Slater, superintendent of Hinton Community School District.
During this year’s election season, Lawton-Bronson Community School District is asking their community for a $15.5 million bond for a new auditorium, gym, and fitness center. However, due to the change in law during the summer break Chad Shook, superintendent with Lawton-Bronson said it was sometimes a struggle to get people together to push plans forward.
“We were originally planning on running a bond issue in March, which would have given us a lot of lead to get things going and get things out to our public. This has been in the works since 2022, so no one was in a real large hurry because we thought we had time. well all of a sudden when the rules changed, it did go on the fast track,” said Shook.
The Hinton Community School District hopes to pass a $16 million bond for four new classrooms for their elementary, a new gym for their high school, as well as a new entryway and parking lot for students. Ken Slater, the superintendent of Hinton Community School District, said the law change actually worked in their favor.
“We’re planning on a fall roll out of the bond referendum the entire time, we were actually looking at September so it did give us another month or so of prep time,” said Slater.
Despite the Hinton School District receiving more time for their bond, Slater says he’s worried about what happens if a bond passes or fails.
“If the bond fails then you’re gonna wait another year and then you’re gonna get less project for that same amount of money,” said Slater.
“let’s say half of these schools do pass their bond issues, what is that to the cost of material because cost is controlled by supply and demand. What does that do to contractors, are there enough to go around,” said Shook.
Superintendent Shook said while he sees the value in this new law…
“It would have been nice in hindsight to have had more time to get the word out. maybe if the legislature would’ve chosen to make this go in effect a year from July instead of putting everybody on the same timeline,” said Shook.
Lawton-Bronson and Hinton Community School Districts encourage their residents to vote at polling locations on November 7th. For a bond to pass, school districts need a supermajority of 60% of folks voting yes on this year’s ballot.