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Charles City Board of Education workshop will concentrate on potential facilities projects, costs, impact

Charles City Board of Education workshop will concentrate on potential facilities projects, costs, impact
Brad Leeper, a partner and architect with Invision Architecture of Des Moines and Waterloo, discussed options and the decision-making process regarding possible construction projects dealing with the Charles City High School, during a public meeting held in May at the high school. Press file photo by Bob Steenson
By Bob Steenson, [email protected]

A special workshop meeting scheduled for early Wednesday evening should give the Charles City Board of Education and the public an update on a potential facilities project for the high school, possible funding sources and taxpayer impact.

It will also include the results of a recent online survey where people were asked their opinions on various choices to repair, “reimagine” or replace the high school, with price tags ranging from $13½ million to almost $38 million, as well as an update on funding to build a new auditorium.

The workshop session will be held at 5 p.m. in the high school library. A workshop meeting is for sharing information and discussion only. The Board of Education cannot take action on any agenda items.

According to the meeting agenda, Director of Communications Justin DeVore will provide the results of the most recent high school facility survey sent out to more than 5,500 households. “The Board of Directors may discuss these results and provide some guidance on the next steps,” the agenda says.

The four possible courses of action for the high school that were presented in the facilities needs survey were:

  • Fix critical items at the high school – $13.47 million to  $17.73 million.
  • “Reimagine” the existing facilities with some renovation and some new construction – $28.42 million to $32.98 million.
  • Replace a majority of the high school – $33.95 million to $37.92 million.
  • Do nothing.

Next, Director of Finance Evan Marten will present the different funding streams available for a high school facility project and the impact on the Charles City community. The agenda says financial items that could be discussed include:

  • General obligation bond rates and monthly/annual impact per $100,000 of taxable valuation.
  • The amount of the Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL) that is currently obligated and the amount that is unobligated.
  • The district’s current plan for unobligated PPEL funding.
  • How Secure an Advanced Vision for Education (SAVE) funding is currently being used.

Other topics on the agenda include the results of Iowa Construction Advocate Team (ICAT) facilities evaluations and why the school district partners with that group, how the district decides on architects and contractors, and “other facility-related topics that could assist in providing more clarity on the current facility conditions within Charles City Community Schools.”

Superintendent Dr. Anne Lundquist and the board also “will have the opportunity to provide the community with an auditorium update and could provide guidance on the next steps.”

A private group of art supporters has been working since summer 2021 to raise $12 million to $15 million for an 800-seat state-of-the-art performing arts center that is proposed to be located on the high school/middle school campus and gifted to the school district once completed.

Spokespersons for the group have said from the beginning that the intent is to build the facility without any tax dollar input, but others have questioned whether public money could or even should be part of the project.

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