USD 329 Board approves bond option for community vote

Plan calls for K-6 building in Paxico, 7-12 in Alma; Community will vote in May

After many board meetings discussing the facilities and bond options, the board was able to pass a motion for an election to occur on May 12 at 6 polling places in the district for the potential 25 year bond, on Option 16.

The regular board meeting started with continued discussion to answer a few leftover questions over the facilities. Once the board had most of their questions answered, a motion was made for Option 10 to be the option moving forward. The potential K-12, Option 10, was seconded, but failed with a vote of 2-5. Seconds later, another motion was made, but for Option 16. The motion was seconded, and passed 4-3. Now it is up to the community to vote either for or against the K-6 in Paxico and 7-12 in Alma.

Most of the board members said that their areas favor Option 16, especially Paxico and Maple Hill, but most of the board was also favoring it. “While I think one location would be our most efficient option, I think Option 16 is probably our best compromise,” Kelly Oliver said.

The main plan for the board was to unify the district, in whatever way they can. With option 16, MHES and AES students will be unified starting in kindergarten instead of fifth grade. Board member Tony Conrad said that when he was in school, once they reached freshman year Maple Hill and Alma were enemies.

“I think these kids are stronger because they have more time together, and I do think it’s very important that the kindergarteners start together, that’s only gonna make it better,” Conrad said, “When it was K-8 we came into this high school as enemies. We played each other [in sports] for two years. I mean, we had people jumping schools to be on a better basketball team. So I think the unification part is getting better over this time frame.”

Not only will this unification hopefully benefit the students, but it will also benefit the parents. Oliver said once fifth grade happens, class parties and field trips are rare. Due to this parents don’t have the chance to get to know each other once their kids unify at middle school. With unification occurring in kindergarten, the parents will also get to learn more about the students and parents sooner.

Although they decided on an option, the board members still have disagreements. Jerome Hess has said he is not in favor of either Option 10 or 16. Hess raised concerns for the increasing taxes for land owners. “I get so tired of this. All of you, all you can think about is what’s best for the kids and that’s spending the most amount of money,” Hess said.

Now that the board has made a decision, president Justin Frank said that the board needs to get behind the one option no matter if they agree or not. “Whether it passes 4-3, 5-2, 6-1, at that point, the board becomes unified. The board takes whatever decision was made. Whether it was your thought, your idea, your approach, and you unify. You get behind it, and you start working in your communities for that process,” Frank said.

— Kaytlyn Meseke, @kaytlyn_nelle

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