UPDATE: A new meeting to consider the ECC financing has been scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 15 at the Rockwell Administration Center.
By CRISTINA JANNEY
The Hays USD 489 school board met Wednesday night for a special session but was unable to take action due to an issue over the meeting’s scheduling.
The board was set to take action on financing for a new building for Early Childhood Connections.
State statute requires board members to be notified of meetings at least two full days before the meeting unless board members sign a waiver of notice.
The board president opened the meeting, but board member Greg Schwartz refused to sign the waiver of notice.
The board consulted the board attorney Michael Baxter who said he was uncertain what effect Schwartz not signing the waiver would have on any action the board might take in the meeting. He recommended the board adjourn and reschedule the meeting.
The board met in a special session because it is under a tight timeline to move forward with the ECC project. It has received a $1.47 million federal grant to renovate the Oak Park Medical Complex. The district only has until the end of June to use the grant funds.
The board has already voted to move forward with the purchase of the former medical complex and to accept the grant. The board was to vote Wednesday on a resolution for a $2 million lease agreement to pay for the building. The district was waiting on bids to come in from banks on interest for the lease agreement before it could meet to approve the financing. Those numbers became available Wednesday afternoon.
After the lease agreement resolution is approved, a 30-day period begins that would allow registered voters to mount a protest petition. The lease agreement will be for $250,000 per year for 10 years. Anything more than $100,000 per year requires a protest period.
The district can’t move forward with the project until after the protest period. If a protest petition is signed by at least 5 percent of the registered voters in the school district, the issue wold have to go to a public vote.
However, because of the extra time it would take to mount a special election, Superintendent John Thissen said a successful protest petition would mean the district would not be able to complete the project in the time allowed by the grant. The district would have to give back the grant money.
Schwartz and Lance Bickle voted no on both the purchase of the medical complex and acceptance of the grant.
After the Wednesday meeting was adjourned, Schwartz said his refusal to sign the waiver was not an attempt to block the ECC project. He said he still opposes the ECC project and would like more information on the project, including an appraisal of the building and further discussion on how the medical complex building would fit into the district’s long-range plan.
Schwartz continued, saying he wanted more notice of the meeting and time to prepare and he had only been informed of the meeting at 10:30 Wednesday morning.
Thissen said emails had been sent to all board members, including Schwartz, about possible meeting times and dates, and the board members agreed on the Wednesday time. Options on meeting times had included times on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
Thissen said the meeting will be rescheduled with more notice. Although the district is still under a time crunch to use the grant funds, he said the delay in the approving the financing resolution will not be enough to kill the project.