Four votes give Delano operating funds, but plans for new 4-6 building, turf, voted down

November 12, 2007

By Ryan Gueningsman
Managing Editor

With four more positive votes than negative, residents of the Delano School District narrowly voted in favor of the first question on the ballot at Tuesday’s election, which asked voters for funds to operate a new grade 4-6 building.

The only problem is, voters didn’t approve actually going forward with funding plans to buy land and construct the building, voting down the second question on the ballot by 142 votes.

Because the second question failed, the third question on the ballot, which asked for voter funding for turf on the football field and an additional athletic field, was automatically defeated, due to it being contingent upon the passage of questions one and two.

School Board Chairperson Becky Schaust said late last week that, even though she is disappointed the outcome wasn’t better, she’s optimistic because the operating portion was approved by voters.

“Truly, for many districts, the hard part is getting the operating part done,” Schaust said. “Now, we can tuck that away until we are ready.

She said people may have been confused about the intent of the two questions, and that they were meant to go “hand-in-hand.”

The operating revenue approved by the voters is good for 10 years, and the board will not be levying for those funds at this time. Superintendent Dr. John Sweet said it’s the intent of the board to not use those funds until it has another facility to operate.

“We got the first part,” Sweet said. “We got that passed and off the plate, and now we continue to deal with land acquisition and a 4-6 building.”

Schaust, too, said the board, from here, will focus on securing the land needed for future school sites. She said that’s the board’s main focus, but from there, she is not sure on the direction it will take.

“The intent is there to continue to work to find a solution to our increasing enrollment,” Sweet said. “Those issues didn’t go away.”

Schaust was surprised that the numbers reflected at the polls were not quite what was expected from the canvassing done by members of the Vote Yes volunteer committee.

“I don’t think results match polling numbers,” she said. “So, we’ve got some things to figure out – we need to see what we can and cannot support as a community. The Vote Yes committee felt there were fewer yes votes than what had been indicated on the phone (surveys).”

Schaust said the board will be meeting Tuesday, Nov. 13 to canvass the election results, and in the next few weeks, will continue planning for the future.

Some questions that need to be answered, Schaust said, include securing the land, overcrowding issues at the high school, and what this means for day-to-day operations of the district.

Because of the closeness of votes for question one, Sweet said a recount could be requested.

“We’re disappointed that all three didn’t pass, but we’ll take it as it comes, and continue to move forward to solve the problems,” Sweet said.

“I just know so many people worked so hard – the facilities advisory committee and Vote Yes committee, that the one success we got was great, but we were really hoping for a little more than that,” Schaust said.