2020 Bond Referendum Communication
I am excited to share with you an update regarding the future of our district and how we will continue to build upon our successes.
By way of reminder, in January we presented, and the Board approved, our 10-year Facility and Financial Plan. This plan was the culmination of several months of work. One of the key highlights in the plan is an intentional and strategic shift to a longer-term, systemic approach to facility planning. Guided by the expectations of the Board, the plan going forward is designed to address both new facility needs and ongoing support for the buildings that exist in our district.
The specific shift relates to addressing increasing aging infrastructure needs while at the same time preparing for current and future facilities and additions. In the past we could largely use a pay-as-you-go model as much of the funding was centered on building new facilities. That model worked well. This plan requires a bond referendum to secure the funds to pay for the plan so that other infrastructure monies can be directly committed to roof projects, interior improvements in existing schools, and parking lot repairs and replacements, for example. It also provides opportunities to place more and even better technology in the hands of our students.
In terms of highlighting technology, we are in the process of acquiring approximately 12,000 machines to place in the hands of our students this fall. For grades K-7 it is iPads and for grades 8-12 it is MacBooks. As a result, you will notice that the original potential bond amount has gone from $195 million to $205 million. While this shift in price does not directly bond for the technology, it adds capital projects to the bond so that money will be freed from that funding stream to help pay for the technology.
Our Board and leadership team acknowledges the timing of a large bond referendum may not feel ideal, however, our community still is growing and the needs remain. As importantly, the approval of this bond referendum will not impact the district’s portion of your property taxes.
- Great things continue to happen in Waukee and that includes continued increases in enrollment.
- Provides a map for new facilities as well as support for existing facilities through 10-year planning that also addresses finances, boundary work, and staffing.
- Equity in infrastructure across our schools is a priority, as is the access of students to technology.
- Based on current financial, enrollment projections this vision contains shifts in approaches of our maturing district.
The district will go to voters to approve of the district borrowing $205 million in general obligations bonds. Included in the bond are all of the projects from middle-level building #5 to elementary #11, as well as improvements to some of our athletic fields:
In addition to the facilities, the district will need to purchase land in order to keep up with enrollment growth.
Over the last several years we’ve been working to pay off debt early to save taxpayer dollars and to increase our ability to bond. It is important to keep in mind that while this bond referendum would allow for $205 million in bonding in the coming years, if our growth were to slow down, for example, it does not require that the money be bonded. It is permission to bond for the amount and for the items contained in the resolution:
“Shall the Board of Directors of the Waukee Community School District in the County of Dallas, State of Iowa, be authorized to contract indebtedness and issue General Obligation Bonds in an amount not to exceed $205,000,000 to provide funds to build, furnish and equip two middle-level buildings, an elementary building and a pool athletic facility and improve the sites therefore; to build, furnish and equip an addition to the Waukee Innovation and Learning Center, including related remodeling and site improvements; to improve the athletic field; to acquire land for school facilities; and to make improvements at the District’s instructional facilities?”
Our current school tax rate is $17.80 per $1,000 of taxable valuation on a home within our district. Of that $17.80, $4.05 is appropriated to debt service. The Board of Education has set the debt service rate at the maximum ($4.05). Therefore, the portion of the Waukee CSD rate that pays for the $205 million bond referendum will not increase. We are able to do this because we are fortunate to have increasing property valuations within our school district boundaries. Due to our forecasting and planning, our district is able to structure the new debt within the current $4.05 levy.
In order for the referendum to be successful, 60% of voters must vote yes. We must also have approximately 2,500 signatures on petitions, from eligible voters in the district, by July 9, 2020. A group of citizens have formed a committee to engage in that work.
Thank you for your support of Waukee Community School District, we are excited for the future that lies ahead.
Dr. Brad Buck