K-12 Education

Iowa City school board approves sending $190 million bond issue to voters

Question likely to be put to voters on Sept. 12

The Iowa City Community School District Headquarters in Iowa City. (Gazette file photo)
The Iowa City Community School District Headquarters in Iowa City. (Gazette file photo)

IOWA CITY — The Iowa City school board voted this week to send a $190 million bond question to voters this fall. If approved, the money would fund a variety of building projects in the district over the next five years, as laid out in the district’s master facilities plan.

The question is likely to be put to residents of the Iowa City school district on Tuesday, Sept. 12.

If approved, district officials said the estimated tax-rate increase for residents would be $2.16 per $1,000 of taxable property value. The increase comes at the same time as a tax-rate decrease, however, resulting in a total increase of $1.62 per $1,000. The owner of a $200,000 home would pay an additional $14.12 a month in property taxes, officials said.

The school district’s facilities master plan, which was last amended in 2015, outlines $344 million worth of projects, according to school board documents. To be completed, the work requires a bond, as well as funds from the state sales penny tax for school infrastructure and the Physical Plant and Equipment Levy.

At Tuesday’s meeting, some board members expressed concerns that the size of the bond may hinder its chances of gaining support from a supermajority of voters.

“I just don’t see any pathway from a completely unchanged plan to 60 (percent) voter approval,” Christopher Liebig said in a letter submitted to the board.

The motion to seek voter approval carried with LaTasha DeLoach, Lori Roetlin, Brian Kirschling, Chris Lynch and Paul Roesler voting in favor. Liebig and Phil Hemingway were opposed.

Some supporters of the bond, who submitted a letter of support to the board, worried splitting the facilities projects into smaller bonds would have risked bond failure.

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“The community came together to create the (Facilities Master Plan),” the letter said. “Once the (Facilities Master Plan) is attached to a bond, it becomes a promise the district will keep. We stand ready to advocate for a full bond because we are committed to providing the children in our community a quality public education.”

The letter was signed by the Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce, Iowa City Area Development Group, Iowa City Downtown District, Greater Iowa City Area Home Builders Association, more than a dozen elected officials, and the district’s three comprehensive high school principals.

l Comments: (319) 398-8330; molly.duffy@thegazette.com

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