Louisburg school board members and district officials, being careful to keep their numbers under 10, met Thursday, March 19, at Circle Grove Elementary and decided to postpone the April 7 bond election because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Louisburg USD 416 leaders are going to have to wait a little longer to ask voters to support their proposed school bond.

During a special meeting Thursday, March 19, Louisburg school board members agreed to postpone the April 7 school bond election due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A new election date will be determined at a later time, according to the approved resolution.

The action was taken “for the safety of all voters and poll workers,” according to the resolution.

School district officials had already been working with Miami County Clerk Janet White to modify the details of the election in the midst of the ever changing virus situation.

The initial plan was to switch to one controlled polling location, which White said would have been the old sheriff’s office in Paola, located at 118 S. Pearl St. Since the building has not been occupied ever since the new sheriff’s office became operational in 2018, it would have been easier to isolate in the event a poll worker or voter was later diagnosed with the virus.

White said her workers were prepared to use alcohol to clean all of the equipment and take precautions to protect voters, but there was some concern because of the need to be in close proximity to do things such as check identification and sign poll books.

“There’s no social distancing in an election,” White said.

The change also meant that about 7,000 letters would have had to be mailed out to potential voters explaining the poll location change and urging residents to ask for an advance ballot by mail.

Advance voting in person actually began Wednesday, March 18, at the Miami County Administration Building, but White said only a couple of people voted before the school board postponed the election Thursday. All county offices also were closed Thursday due to the pandemic.

White said none of the advance votes would be tabulated.

Louisburg USD 416’s proposed bond would upgrade district facilities in need of attention for items like roofs, HVAC systems, technology improvements and enhanced safety measures.

The bond proposal, set up as two questions, would reduce the tax mill levy in the process, school officials said.

The proposed $27.6 million bond in the first question addresses district needs that are divided into three main categories: $10.1 million for facility and efficiency upgrades, $9 million for enhanced learning environments, and $8.5 million for safety and security.

The bond proposal would lower the district’s bond mill rate by five mills from the current 21.541 mills to 16.541 mills. The life of the bond would be 15 years. The district is able to lower the mill rate because it will soon be retiring bonds issued to build Rockville Elementary.

The second question is a proposal to construct a new four-field, baseball/softball complex on school property. The life of the second bond issue for the complex also would be 15 years.

The proposed $6.9 million baseball/softball complex would bring the total of the two ballot questions to $34.5 million, which would mean a 1 mill reduction from 21.541 mills to 20.541 mills if both questions are approved, according to the district.

The two-question proposal is set up so that if the $27.6 million bond fails, the district would not move forward with the second part.

Prairie View USD 362 also has a proposed bond election scheduled for April 7. White said that election currently is still taking place, but that could change as she expects to receive an update soon.

The USD 362 bond proposal is $7.5 million that would keep the mill levy neutral.

Proposed renovations include: repair and replace the high school roof, remodel special education classrooms, remodel administrative and library space to have a secure entrance directly into the office, remodel science classrooms and laboratories, remodel family and consumer science room, turn current art room into an expanded space for the family and consumer science program, and turn the current ag classrooms/shop into a new art design workshop.

Proposed additions include: ADA accessible elevator, additional handicap restroom, weightlifting room, agriculture classrooms, shop and greenhouse, according to a school district release.

Editor and Publisher Brian McCauley can be reached at (913) 294-2311 or brian.mccauley@miconews.com.ww

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