Community Notes: Charles City Board of Education proposes referendum for key improvements at Charles City High School
By Pat Rottinghaus, President; Charles City Community School District Board of Education
After months of work and the input and engagement of community members, the Charles City School Board has approved petition language to place a bond referendum question to stakeholders on March 7, 2023.
If voters approve the proposed $27.6 million bond, the district would move ahead to address the most significant facility needs at Charles City High School. This includes upgrades to the building’s safety and security systems, and the addition of 21st century learning spaces by revitalizing the outdated “circles.”
In addition, upgrades to the heating and ventilation units, the addition of air conditioning, and updates to the special education areas are also included. The project would also add a new, 800-seat auditorium.
The board has taken a “no-frills” approach to this project. In doing so, it has analyzed the results of our most recent communitywide survey, which indicated our community members are interested in and engaged in this important issue.
To that end, the district looks to address the most critical needs, outlined above, which were identified by our students, staff, and community members over an 18-month period.
The community has been a driving force behind the process to address the high school facility needs. In fact, a community-led task force has been evaluating needs at the school for more than a year as part of the process to create a long-term facilities master plan.
We listened as community members provided input through public meetings and surveys to modify the project in a way that provides necessary upgrades within a budget that limits the impact on property taxpayers.
Over the past several months, the board became aware of the district’s necessity to provide adequate space for the performing arts and the lack of suitable local options to meet the needs of our students.
In response, an auditorium was added to the list of prioritized needs and has been included in the scope of this project. In addition, the proposed auditorium includes a new, secure entrance that would be combined with the existing office.
Part of the plan rethinks the circles, by taking out the inner walls to allow for additional collaborative learning spaces, and increase the connections between the classrooms and resource areas.
The estimated property tax impact of an approved bond would be $2.70 per year on every $1,000 of taxable property value. For example, a home assessed at $150,000 would result in a property tax increase of about $206.13 per year, or $17.18 per month.
The public can learn more about the project and find answers to frequently asked questions at www.charlescitybond.org.
The time has come to address the facility needs to ensure students continue to have access to the resources and spaces they need to be successful at Charles City High School. The community will continue to be actively involved around this important issue in the weeks ahead.