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ICCSD’s Feb. 5 vote may reset school finances

IOWA CITY– Early voting has already begun at the county auditor’s office ahead of a Feb. 5 vote on an Iowa City Community School District (ICCSD) revenue purpose statement (RPS). Satellite stations will open on Jan. 31 at University of Iowa Hospitals, and Feb. 1 at the Iowa City Public Library.
Voters are deciding if the schools should move ahead with a non-binding “One community, One district” plan that includes purchase of property and building new schools around the district, including a new high school.
A no vote relinquishes control of state tax revenues away from ICCSD direction and to the state. Superintendent Stephen Murley said local versus state control should be a major talking point for voters.
After 2017, if the existing RPS expires and is not replaced or renewed, control of the tax dollars would be stipulated by the state.
The new RPS doesn’t raise taxes or impose any new ones. It changes the financial picture to allow the schools to borrow against anticipated state sales tax revenues.
The RPS is backed by all the board members, who believe the money is needed to follow through with long-term district plans for new and renovated buildings and ensure equitable learning environments for all students. The One plan, encapsulated at the district website, www.iowacityschools.org, offers to alleviate overcrowding and the growing backlog of fixes and updates for aging ICCSD facilities with up to $70 million. Superintendent Stephen Murley has said the board will likely be presented with several projects that could use up most but not all of the available money.
ICCSD’s One plan is non-binding and tentative but the school board agreed to it in an informal vote in December 2012. The close-to-comprehensive facilities plan was created to show a possible path for addressing current facility needs while keeping new school construction projects on the table.
If the RPS fails to pass, Murley said another ballot might be tried at a later date with the board’s approval. He also said the schools can’t do long-term planning past 2017 without an RPS reset now.
The superintendent estimated that the $32.5 million in existing renovation and remodeling needs around the district would be unmet and the rest of the “One community, One district” plans for building new schools would be severely cut back.
Friday, Feb. 1, is the deadline to request an absentee ballot by mail and Monday, Feb. 4, is the last day for in-person early voting at the county auditor’s office at 913 S. Dubuque St. To request an absentee ballot or find your polling place visit the Johnson County Auditor’s website at www.johnson-county.com. To view a video for information on the RPS or for more information on the ONE plan visit www.iowacityschools.org.