Kirkwood bond issue deserves voter support

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Kirkwood Community College will ask voters in its seven-county region on Sept. 12 to renew a bond issue for the next five years, providing $60 million for an array of campus infrastructure projects.

It’s not a tax increase. The 25-cent levy per-$1,000 in taxable valuation was approved by voters in 2007 and in 2012, so it’s already being assessed. The Sept. 12 vote would extend it through 2022, and Kirkwood officials say this will be its final extension.

We supported the bond issue in 2012 when Kirkwood said its dollars would fund regional education centers in Linn, Johnson and Washington counties. As promised, the regional centers now are extending the college’s vital educational and vocational training missions far beyond its Cedar Rapids campus.

Now, Kirkwood leaders are detailing a specific list of projects intended to enhance student services and high-demand programs on campus and at its Iowa City center. Again, we support extending the tax levy to fund these important projects.

A centerpiece of Kirkwood’s five-year plan is the creation of a student services center that would provide a hub for student needs in the heart of campus. Kirkwood officials contend the college is in need of a facility that welcomes students to campus and bundles an array of services under one convenient, accessible roof.

Kirkwood also plans to modernize its agricultural sciences facilities in Washington Hall, including more space to accommodate larger farm implements. Space and technology upgrades are planned for the college’s Animal Health Technology Building and for its automotive technology program.

At the Iowa City campus, 24,000 square-feet of space will be added to accommodate expanded offerings.

Kirkwood’s plans for our tax dollars are detailed and its track record on past bond issuances is solid. Although other local school bonds on the ballot are facing some opposition, we’ve so far heard of no objection to Kirkwood’s plan. It’s last bond measure cruised to passage in 2012.

That’s likely because of the broad recognition of Kirkwood’s importance to the region and state of Iowa, where it generates nearly $1 billion in economic impacts each year and where 95 percent of its graduates live or work. Programs offering college credits to high school students have saved their families millions of dollars in tuition payments.

It’s an institution that deserves our investment, and our votes on Sept. 12.

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