With more than twice the number of signatures needed to trigger a referendum, the Perry School Board voted Wednesday morning to bring before district voters a $6.5 million school-bond proposition and send the ballot language to the county commissioner of elections to prepare for a district-wide vote Feb. 5.
The committee supporting the proposition — Vote Yes for Perry Kids — met Wednesday evening and took the bit between its teeth, planning a six-week marketing campaign and focusing their message on three positive points: safety, space and student skills.
The $6.5 million project would double the size of the Perry High School Industrial Technology Department and build a multipurpose/wrestling room on the McKinley Street side of PHS.
The committee is planning to blitz local civic groups and organizations with presentations on the issue, starting with the Perry Rotary Club Jan. 3 at noon and with more than 20 meetings to follow, with church groups, retirement facilities and others.
One member of the Vote Yes for Perry Kids committee reported he has also received “soft commitments” of several thousand dollars from local donors to support the marketing effort, money that will buy brochures, flyers, yard signs and other forms of advertising. Another member reported the Vote Yes for Perry Kids Facebook page was up. A third said volunteers were drafting a barrage of letters to the editor for local distrubution.
Representatives from Minneapolis-based Unesco Inc. also attended the Vote Yes for Perry Kids meeting. The firm will act as the school district’s engineers, architects and on-site construction managers throughout the project, but they will also assist in marketing. Unesco Inc. Senior Business Consultant Brian Crawford was joined at the meeting by Unesco educational consultants Dr. Scott Hannon and Brian Grenell and Unesco Marketing Director Ellen Schmidt.
The 40 people at the Vote Yes for Perry Kids meeting spent time honing their message: safety, space and student skills. The message applies equally to the need for the industrial technology addition and the new multipurpose room.
“I’ve got some safety concerns,” said longtime PHS Industrial Technology instructor Dale Schumacher, the committee’s co-chair. “That building was moved into in 1965, and an awful lot of equipment has been added in that time. Plus the class sizes are bigger. They’re averaging 20 to 22 students now, while when I was out there they were at 12 to 16. So they’re packed in there tight.”
“There’s also a lot of value in the multipurpose room,” another committee member said. “Along with wrestling, the space will serve for P.E. classes and adaptive P.S. for special-needs kids, as a room for Perry Pulse to practice or the cheerleaders. You name it.”
A third member noted “the uptick of girls in wrestling. I think we had over 30 girls at the wrestling tournament this weekend. It wasn’t all Perry girls but the interest is there.”
The Vote Yes for Perry Kids committee plans to empahsize the strong tradition at PHS both in industrial technology and wrestling, and they point to an overflowing trophy case as proof.
Technical skills acquired in the industrial technology department can be taken directly to the marketplace after graduation, a committee member said, while “athletics teaches things that can’t be taught in a classroom. You learn how to win, how to lose, how to persevere, how to fight through being tired, which you have to do in life.”
With the school board’s submission of the petition and ballot language to the elections commissioner complete, school district voters can anticipate seeing the following language on the referendum ballot Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019:
Shall the Board of Directors of the Perry Community School District in the Counties of Boone, Dallas, and Greene, State of Iowa, be authorized to contract indebtedness and issue General Obligation Bonds in an amount not to exceed $6,500,000 to provide funds to construct, build, improve, furnish, and equip a Career and Technical Education addition to the existing High School/Middle School facility, including related remodeling; and to construct, build, furnish, and equip a Wrestling/Multipurpose Room addition to the existing High School/Middle School facility, including related support spaces and remodeling; and to improve the site?
The Vote Yes for Perry Kids committee, headed by Schumacher and Paula Schnittjer Nelson, will meet again Wednesday, Jan. 2.