By Chris Umscheid
North Liberty Leader
OXFORD– The Clear Creek Amana (CCA) school district is ramping up its efforts to get the word out about its space woes, as a Feb. 4 bond issue referendum grows nearer.
Superintendent Tim Kuehl laid out the details of a petition drive during the school board of director’s work session Wednesday, Sept. 18, at Clear Creek Elementary in Oxford. The drive, to be held in early October, will deploy advocates for the district seeking signatures on a petition calling for the election. Between now and then, the board and administration will get a dollar estimate for the proposed new elementary, middle school expansion and renovation, and expansion of the high school. Keith Johnk with Shive-Hattery will go over the latest facilities proposal and cost estimates during a special work session Wednesday, Sept. 25, at the high school. Kuehl noted the eventual ballot must contain a dollar figure.
The ballot will also be crafted in broad terms in case circumstances dictate a change. The district can only do what the ballot specifies, so general wording is key to staying within the law and accommodating space needs. Kuehl also said the site for the new elementary– undetermined at this time– would also be public knowledge ahead of the vote.
Kuehl said based on the number of people eligible to vote in the district and the number that participated in past elections, only 134 signatures will be required to authorize the election. Iowa law dictates that the district is not allowed to spend money on the campaign. Also, Superintendent Kuehl, school administrators, and board members cannot solicit for signatures or campaign for the bond issue; they can answer questions and provide facts, but must not advocate its passage. In their place, constituents who are not district officials but support the bond will try to turn out the vote.
“These people are going to be critical to the success of this,” Kuehl said. Their mission will initially be to secure the necessary signatures, and then to spread the word to as many patrons of the district and in as many venues as possible. Residents of the district can expect to see flyers tacked up in local businesses, churches and possibly included with their water bill in some communities. A social media blitz via Facebook and Twitter will also be unleashed.
Shawna Colvin, a member of the facilities committee and veteran of the last bond issue campaign in 2006, told the board a political action committee (PAC) was formed to do the campaigning. Through donations to the PAC, they were able to publish brochures and other materials. The PAC can also run a phone bank on election day to remind voters and make a final plea for passage.
Board members listed several members of the community and some former board members who would likely support the petition drive. A training session is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 7, with the board accepting the signatures the week of Oct. 14.
On a related note, Kuehl said North Bend Elementary School, which was recently expanded with additional classrooms, is seeing an expected surge in students. What was unexpected is that the incoming students are second graders, necessitating adding a second grade section to keep class sizes down. As a result, a teachers’ lounge– previously an improvised classroom before the new pod was completed– is once again serving as a makeshift classroom.