On a vote of 5 to nothing, the Ottumwa Board of Education Monday night voted not to purchase the Nash Finch building for 325-thousand dollars. If approved, the building would have been used as an administrative building for the school district.
Superintendent of schools Dr. Davis Idahl told the board there was a lot of misconceptions about the building and said over a 12 year period the school district has lowered property taxes by two dollars and 68-cents per thousand dollars while utilizing silo funds to make 35-million dollars worth of improvements to the district facilities. At the same time, the district’s solvency ratio has increased to 12-percent. The Superintendent told the school board money has already been allocated through the silo tax and the district has 23-million dollars it can bond against.
In discussing plans to purchase the Nash Finch building on south Madison Avenue, board member Jan Keohn asked why a pre-school wasn’t built at Douma. Idahl said it was a financial issue and was not discussed at the time. He said the district had the money at the time and had the space for a pre-school.
Board member David Weilbrenner said the district has a history of not taking care of it’s buildings and noted Wildwood school is not in that bad of shape. He said 325-thousand dollars is a lot to put into a building we we don’t know that much about.
Board member Gary Granneman said “Why buy a building when we have other buildings in the school district that can be used.” And board president Greg Riley said he liked the idea of purchasing the Nash Finch building, but agreed we are not taking care of what we have and noted the district has enough irons in the fire.