School Board approves school bond for facilities

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By Jason Estrada

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The Iowa City School Board voted 5-2 for a $190 million bond issue to fund district facilities through 2023.

For the bond issue to be approved, a 60 percent voter approval is required to pass. The School Board election ballot will likely appear in this fall.

Board member Chris Liebig said he opposes the proposal.

“I thought there were too many projects included in the proposal that were too hard to defend,” he said. “A lot of the projects are necessary and useful, but I think you need to be able to go the voters and defend every single project in that plan.”

Some of the projects were speculative, Liebig  said, when the School Board won’t know about enrollment projections six years from now.

Despite his stance on the issue, some of the schools in the district are happy that the bond issue has passed.

City High Principal John Bacon said he is a big supporter of the plan.

“I am excited to actively support and work to gain passage of this bond issue. It’s the right thing for our community; it’s a great plan,” he said. “It’s something that truly touches and improves every single school in the district, and that’s why I love it.”

If the bond issue passes, City High will receive many enhancements.

“The building will be fully air-conditioned, which is long overdue,” Bacon said. “We would be looking at adding a gymnasium, a cafeteria, and then our dream scenario is to renovate our existing cafeteria facility into an industrial technology facility.”

Officials haven’t drawn a blueprint yet, but Bacon said he hopes his vision of the improvements will make the school an an amazing facility.

Nick Proud, the principal of Burford Garner Elementary, a school in North Liberty, supports the bond issue as well.

“Well, I think in any situation this is a much needed update to a variety of buildings, brings a lot of great upgrades to a number of schools including heating and air-conditioning that don’t have that yet,” he said. “Plus, it’s a sign of support for our growing community, and I see the board is trying to look at this as a commitment to our kids, not just now, but in the future.”

For Burford Garner, a new elementary school would be built on the property north of its building, which will ease the current student population. As a result, the temporary classrooms would be eliminated. Another enhancement would be a new art and music room.

Bacon and Proud said they hope the school-bond issue is approved by the voters because of the effect it can have on students and education.

“I think we really have to highlight the importance of this for our kids and the impact it’s going to have all across the district; I think those are the most important pieces,” Proud said. “We really have to look at changing the learning environment and bringing our older schools up to date.”

Bacon echoed Proud’s view. 

“I think people will take the time to learn what exactly it is and make a wise decision,” he said. “I understand and appreciate and respect we’re asking for people’s support in tax dollars, and we need to make sure that people understand what great benefits we’re getting for their investment.”

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