Education

Voters approve $54 million bond for College Community School District

More than 84% voted in favor of College Community measure, while Alburnett school bond passes with 66% approval

Prairie Creek Intermediate is seen through a large window in the new cafeteria at Prairie High School in Cedar Rapids on
Prairie Creek Intermediate is seen through a large window in the new cafeteria at Prairie High School in Cedar Rapids on Monday, Jan. 13, 2020. Renovations and expansion at the high school will be completed this year and were funded with a bond issue passed in 2016. Under an upcoming bond proposal, a new 5th and 6th grade building would be built and 9th grade would move into the existing building, which would then connect to Prairie High School through this opening. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

Voters overwhelmingly approved a $54 million bond in the College Community School District on Tuesday with more than 84 percent voting in favor of the measure, according to unofficial results from the Linn County Auditor’s Office.

Voters in the Alburnett Community School District also approved a general obligation bond, for $11.6 million, with almost 66 percent approval Tuesday.

The passage of College Community district’s bond will allow the growing school district to complete its 10-year facilities plan, which outlined projects from 2013 to 2023 throughout the district’s southwest Cedar Rapids campus, where all of its school buildings are clustered.

Thanks to a rising property tax base — the district’s enrollment has increased by 50 to 70 students each year since 2009, to about 5,800 this school year — the bond’s approval will keep the property tax rate in the district steady at $16.61 per $1,000 of taxable assessed value.

College Community School District includes southern areas of Cedar Rapids, Ely, Fairfax and other rural areas.

The $54 million bond is the second one that voters in the growing school district have approved to finance the district’s facilities plan. In 2016, a $49.5 million bond passed with 68 percent approval after failing to reach a supermajority in 2015 with 57 percent approval.

The bond’s passage sets in motion plans to build a new school for fifth and sixth grades at the southeast corner of the district campus. The building is expected to have capacity for 960 students, divided among eight “neighborhoods” within the facility, two gyms and art, music and media centers.

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Superintendent Doug Wheeler previously told The Gazette the new school will be scheduled to be completed by fall 2023. Relocating fifth- and sixth-graders during that school year would allow for remodeling to begin at their current school, Prairie Creek.

Prairie Creek, just south of Prairie High School, will be reshaped for ninth-graders and the district’s alternative high school program.

Second time’s a charm in Alburnett

North of Cedar Rapids, the small Alburnett Community School District plans to leverage its $11.6 million bond to build 14 classrooms — including facilities for agriculture and family consumer sciences — an auditorium and a multipurpose facility at Martin Athletic Complex.

The 700-student district revised its facility plans after voters rejected a similar bond in June. That measure received 55 percent approval.

The bond is expected to raise property tax rates in the Alburnett school district from a rate of $13.41 to $15.28 per $1,000 of taxable assessed value.

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

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