CENTERVILLE — As a special election draws near, the Centerville Community School Board discussed how to communicate their plans with the public.

District officials are producing an information brochure they said, which they hope to begin distributing in early February.

"This is not a document or a brochure that says to people, 'This is the way you should vote,'" superintendent Tom Rubel said. "This is a document or brochure that gives clear information in terms of what this project is about."

As part of its efforts to renovate the Centerville High School and other district buildings, the board is planning to bond more than $20 million, backed by a combination of property and sales tax proceeds.

A petition was presented at a board meeting earlier this month asking for a special election on the district's proposal for $12 million of bonds funded through a property tax levy. The special election has been set for March 2.

The bonds would be funding renovation efforts at Centerville High School — specifically the construction of a new wing and ultimate demolition of the original portion of the high school, which was built more than a century ago.

The new addition would connect with the career technical, science and auditorium areas.

Rubel said there would be three informational meetings scheduled ahead of the vote in February.

Other projects besides the high school include improvements to the athletic facility and Centerville Preschool, and renovations at Howar Middle School. The fund those projects is another $10 million in bonds that will be funded by proceeds from the statewide sales tax.

In other action:

— The school district is awaiting more instruction on the second round of COVID-19 relief funding provided through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund.

In the first round, districts were given funding in one lump sum upfront. Now, districts are told the maximum amount they can receive, but they must spend the money first and then request reimbursement. The district has until June 2023 to spend the money.

— The board heard a presentation of how grades pre-kindergarten through fifth are using remote learning technology.

— The first reading of new restraint and constraint policies was approved by the board, making them conform with new laws on the topic. The State Board of Education recently approved changes, which took effect on Jan. 20. The new policies are from the Iowa Association of School Boards.

Kyle Ocker is the group editor of the Ottumwa Courier and the Oskaloosa Herald. He can be reached at kocker@ottumwacourier.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kyle_Ocker.

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Kyle Ocker is a Centerville native and award-winning multimedia journalist. Kyle is currently the president of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council and vice president of the Iowa Print Sports Writers Association.

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