CHAMPAIGN — Champaign school board member Jamar Brown wants to change his yes vote on the school district's working cash bond issue to a no.
But the school board couldn't take a vote to abandon the bond issue Monday because of a parliamentary procedure issue.
Dave Tomlinson, who was named board parliamentarian Monday, said he reviewed Robert's Rules of Order, which govern the school board, and found that the school board can't take a vote to rescind action when it's related to a contract and the other party hasn't been notified.
The school board has notified CTS that it's the low bidder on geothermal systems for Franklin and Jefferson middle schools, but the school board has not voted on any contracts. Tomlinson emphasized that the school district hasn't spent any money from the working cash bond issue.
However, he said he doesn't want to make a mistake on parliamentary procedure, because it would make the topic of working cash bonds "even more of a messy issue," he said.
Brown was able to talk about his reasons for wanting to change his vote, though. He said he was told last week that none of the work to be done with money from the bond issue could be completed this summer.
The work on the list include new geothermal and lighting systems at Franklin and Jefferson middle schools, a new transportation center and wireless technology in all buildings.
The school board is seeking up to $14.5 million to make those improvements, which would raise property taxes about $25 for the owner of a $150,000 home.
Champaign schools' Chief Operating Officer Gene Logas said that timeline he discussed with Brown last week has since changed. If the board approves the contract soon, one geothermal system could be completed this summer. Wells for the other could be dug this summer, as well.
Brown also expressed concern that some local homeowners' assessed value is going down, which means their property tax rates will go up. But Logas emphasized that as the school board doesn't brag when assessed value goes up and tax rates go down, they shouldn't take the blame for when the opposite happens.
Brown also asked to let other corporate financiers make proposals for ways the school board could get the money without raising taxes.
A couple of options have been presented, including selling more bonds to be repaid in 20 years with money from the school facilities sales tax, or issuing bonds to be repaid with money to be released when tax increment financing districts expire in the future.
Logas has said neither of those is a responsible choice for the school district. But Brown said those ideas make him wonder if there may be more options available.
"I feel that if two have come up — they may not be the best — but how many options might be out there that might be better than working cash bonds?" Brown said.
Tomlinson said the school district chose Stifel Nicolaus through a request for proposals to be its bond firm.
Board President Sue Grey offered to take a straw poll to see if any other board members wanted to change their vote on the working cash bond issue, but no one spoke up.
The board discussed possibly having a special meeting next week to approve the contracts to move forward with the geothermal work.
Brown said after the meeting that he won't necessarily vote against the contracts when the time comes.
He's not against the improvements, he said, and wants them to be done.
"I want the work to move forward," he said.
Also Monday, Grey swore in new school board member Ileana Saveley. She fills the seat left open when board member and board parliamentarian Greg Novak died in March.