Voters in the West Delaware Community School District will decide on a $20 million bond issue to upgrade facilities in the district in a special election, March 2.

At its monthly meeting Jan. 11, the West Delaware School Board received a petition with 447 signatures and approved a resolution to move forward with the measure that would provide funds to remodel, repair and improve the high school, middle school and Lambert Elementary (377 signatures, or 25% of the voters in the most recent election, were required to proceed).

“Just a big shout out to our communities. We need to rely on our communities to get these signatures and send the message we’d like to have a vote,” said Superintendent Dr. Kristen Rickey. “It’s not deciding we’re going to do anything, it’s just allowing people to vote.”

Rickey thanked the volunteers that secured the signatures necessary to move forward.

“A huge shoutout to our community members that got over 400 signatures, especially at a time when not a lot of groups are gathering,” Rickey said. “I’m very grateful for so many things and this is just one more.”

Iowa law requires a 60% supermajority for bond referendums to be approved.

In other business, Director Sam Milroy led the board through a discussion of possible solar power options for the district.

“A group of investors would get together and pay for the setup of the solar array and sell the electricity. If we were to do that, a group of investors would pay for all the installation and we would buy the electricity back from those investors,” Milroy said. “As long as you can find the investors, you can do this at no cost to the taxpayers while reducing money coming out of the budget that goes back to the general fund.”

Milroy stated the City of West Union is currently seeing nearly $40,000 in savings per year through a power purchase agreement. Such agreements can run up to 25 years, with the option after five-to-seven years for the entity using the energy to purchase the entire solar array at fair market value. West Union anticipates a yearly savings of up to $85,000 yearly if the city chooses to purchase the array.

The board was receptive to the idea and Milroy will work with Rickey and Director of Buildings and Grounds Gary Fonck to obtain additional information for upcoming meetings.

“I think it’s worth pursuing,” said Board President Dan Hogan. “We’ve got the land. We have plenty of places to put it. We just need more information.”

The board approved the hiring of Kristin Milroy, mentor; Elleigh McGraw, first-grade teacher; Alexa Dunn, middle school cafe/recess associate; Randy Richter, bus driver; Josh Vorwald, assistant varsity track throwing coach; and Angie Widmar, substitute bus driver.

The board also approved the modified supplemental amount for dropout prevention, approved early graduation requests for 10 students pending completion of all graduation requirements, and approved a revised policy dealing with staff absences resulting from COVID-19.