What construction projects will the bond issue fund?

The bond will fund several additions, furnish and equip classroom those additions, and remodel, repair, and improve the Ireton and Hawarden Elementary Schools, including related site improvements.

How much is the bond referendum?

The bond referendum is $14,900,000.

What has changed since the last vote?

After the last election, we reviewed concerns voiced during the community meetings and the changing economic conditions. The construction cost estimate rose from $230/square foot to $300 - $340/square foot making a new PK-5 elementary school financially unattainable. After considering options, the board decided to propose repairing and remodeling both existing buildings. The plan is to replace considerable portions of the MEP (Mechanical,,Electrical, Plumbing) of both buildings. We are also looking to build additions at both facilities addressing our space issues. Finally, we will look at other items that will make the buildings more energy efficient such as new windows, additional insulation, and possibly geothermal heating.

What were the overarching principles that guided the board's decision?

The board explored numerous scenarios for building plans since the last election. In these discussions, four main questions always guided the conversations:

1. What is the best we can do for our students? 2. No matter what we do, can we find efficiencies when we build? 3. How do we maintain an effective and vibrant school district spread across several towns? 4. What is financially feasible?

If the bond referendum passes, how much will property taxes increase?

Please see the Summary Tax Impact worksheet as this breaks down the cost based on the category of property. On this worksheet, please find your category of property, such as residential, commercial, agricultural, or multi-residential, and your approximate assessed value to determine an estimated rate change per year. The district believes that the overall levy rate increase will be no more than $2.60/$1,000 of taxable valuation. We can decrease our other levies for the short term to offset the higher debt service levy while we allow the one-cent sales tax to regenerate, then use some of those dollars to offset the levy rate. That will maintain maintain the rate at no more than an increase of $2.60.. (5)

Who can vote on the referendum?

Anyone who lives in the West Sioux School District, is eighteen years of age, and is registered to vote can cast a ballot on March 7. A person who is not registered to vote can register at their polling location the same day by providing proof of age and residence.

Where are the polling locations, and what times are they open?

Polling locations are:

Hawarden Community Center, 1150 Central Avenue, Hawarden, IA

Ireton City Council Chambers, 502 4th Street, Ireton IA

The polls will be open from 7 AM to 8 PM at both locations on March 7th.

What is needed for the referendum to pass?

General Obligation Bond referendums need 60% plus one vote of the votes cast to be "yes" in order to pass. In recent years, multiple school bond referendums have been decided by fewer than three votes. This demonstrates that everyone's opinion and vote is important!

Can a school use bond money to give teachers or staff a raise or pay employment-related expenses?

No, these are two separate pots of money, and the bond proceeds will go only towards the building project. Teacher salaries are paid from the General Fund. The fund that the bond money goes into can only be used for infrastructure improvement. (10)

Will construction interfere with student learning?

We believe that any disruption should be minimal, using the summer months to do the majority of work inside the existing structures.

Will upgrades save us money?

We are looking at the possibility of geothermal heating which over the long term will save the district money in heating costs. There will be other efficiencies in the heating and cooling systems that could also help reduce overall utility costs. The new windows will also be more energy efficient.

What is the proposed construction timeline if the bond referendum passes?

That is yet to be determined. When the bond issue passes, we will immediately begin developing construction plans. These construction plans will go out to bidders in early fall; we would hope to begin construction in late fall or the following spring. We anticipate construction will take 18 to 24 months..

Is this plan just a band aid on older buildings?

We do not view this as a band aid on older buildings. We will replace most of the infrastructure on both buildings and, in the process, prolong the useful lives of the buildings for the next generation. It is true we will not have an all new building but we will have new infrastructure and new classrooms at both spaces.

I thought last time we were told that it was not practical to repair the current buildings. What has changed? (15)

The economic conditions have changed. Initially, we anticipated the cost of a new building to be around $14.5 million. While we felt that this was feasible, we would be stretching our resources for other needs of the school district. The board felt that was an acceptable trade if we had a new building that would not have considerable upkeep costs for the next five to ten years. The cost estimates for the same building now would be closer to $20.5 million, a price beyond our reach. We had to consider other options.

Why not wait a year or two and see if costs come down? Could we then have a new TK-5 building?

The board considered and discussed this option. The belief is that we have needs right now that need to be dealt with and we should not wait longer. The overcrowding in our elementary buildings have forced students and teachers into storage areas, hallways, and portable buildings. The heating system, windows and other infrastructure issues are no longer adequate and are overdue for an upgrade. If we don’t address these issues as soon as possible they will only get worse and will become more expensive to repair or replace.