By Sarah Stortz
Local parents, educators, and students
are working together to improve school facilities in the Iowa City School District next fall.
At the Coralville Public Library on Tuesday morning, community members hosted a media event for the All for One: One Community, One Bond campaign. They pushed a $191.5 million bond to improve the facilities in the district. This includes repairing leaks, reducing the number of classes held in trailers, and fixing deferred maintenance, according to a document from the event.
If passed, the bond would allow the district to complete its 10-year Facilities Master Plan. There are currently 20 uncompleted projects remaining in the plan, which the proposed bond can help finish.
According to the event document, of the 10 major school districts in Iowa, the Iowa City School District has the lowest property-tax rate. Even if the bond passes, the School District would still remain at the bottom of the list, the document said.
For local taxpayers, the bond would cause a projected increase of $4.25 a month per $100,000 “assessed home.”
During the meeting, four speakers share their experience with the insufficient high-school facilities and discussed on why they need to pass the bond.
One presentation slide stated that if the bond does not pass, the School District could start back at square one.
“We pit neighborhoods against each other as we’re forced for limited resources,” the presentation slide said. “We’ve come too far to start over.”
Catherine Pugh, a volunteer for the campaign, said the School District needs this bond, pointing out that half of the buildings are not air-conditioned, and many facilities are inaccessible for students with disabilities.
“It’s not a suitable learning environment,” Pugh said.
In the presentation, speakers said student enrollment is expected to reach 15,500 district-wide by the 2024-25 school year, and the bond will help accommodate that growth so schools won’t become overcrowded. The district now serves nearly 14,000 students, according to the School District website.
Iowa City resident Kelly Gallagher Terrill, who attended the meeting, said she supports the bond because of her two children.
“I see how desperately our district needs to improve buildings that are already existing and add a new capacity so that our students aren’t overcrowded,“ she said. “We won’t have too many students learning in temporary learning conditions [if this passes].”
Iowa City resident Nick Bergus, who has a child enrolled in the district, said he volunteered for the campaign so he could help complete the 10-year plan.
“We have a lot of our issues that we’ve worked through,” Bergus said. “This is our opportunity to provide what the school really needs.”
Pugh said she has high confidence this bond will appeal to voters when they have the chance to cast their ballots.
“I think the general community is saying that we want to improve our facilities,” Pugh said. “It’s especially important for people who have children in the district.”
Bergus said there’s still time for the campaign to have more volunteers.
“We’d love folks to be involved and know why it’s critically important for this bond to be passed,” Bergus said.
Iowa City residents will be able to vote on the bond on Sept. 12.