Community narrows options for district’s building improvements
BY KARYN SPORY
Mt. Pleasant News
WINFIELD – Winfield-Mt. Union community members played the role of Goldilocks Wednesday night, deciding which of the three possible building options would be just right for the district.
This was the second of three community engagement meetings before a bond referendum vote the school district would like to have in February.
Last month, community members identified areas of concern, including the pre-K and kindergarten classrooms, industrial arts classroom, practice gym, commons and band/music rooms.
Wednesday night, in the current practice gym, community members discussed the three building options, each costing the district just shy of $6 million, and ranked them. Of the three options presented, none of the nearly 50 individuals present liked the third one, which did not address a new practice gym. Most liked the flow of the first option, however the industrial arts classroom had not been addressed, which was cited as a must. Some community members even gave options as to how the classroom could be expanded – mainly suggesting architects from BLDD look at the area where the portable classrooms currently are.
Also, no one liked having the family consumer science classrooms on the third floor away from the kitchen.
Facilities Committee member Karen Jennings said she was pleased with how BLDD took the community and committee’s input and created manageable plans.
“I thought we had reasonable options,” said Jennings who, during a committee meeting expressed concern of showing the community a wish-list layout only to pull the rug out from under them by saying the district could only actually afford a portion of it.
“I think they did a good job of matching up the biggest priorities from the first meeting with a dollar amount that was workable,” she said.
Sam Johnson, of BLDD, said he felt the meeting had been a success.
“Our goal is to get a good sampling of the community so we can uncover what they will support. That’s the whole purpose of the exercise,” said Johnson. “I’m really pleased with how it’s going because you’re seeing people really considering cost and program. What we want our facilities to be and do so we can be competitive and the cost.”
With the input received Wednesday night, Johnson said he and his team would scrap the third option and instead focus on adjusting options one and two. “We heard some people say it’s just right right now and some say it needs to be bigger so we may have two options for each one and see if something strong comes out.”
Johnson indicated participants at the final community meeting, which will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 30, at 6 p.m., in the small gym, will see examples of option one and two in $6 million and $7 million layouts.
Johnson reminded the crowd the options and budgets they were seeing did not include the new HVAC (air conditioning) system, which the school board plans to pay for out of funds the district would not have to levy for.
Community members also heard a presentation from Matt Gillaspie, of Des Moines based Piper Jaffray, regarding the district’s ability to bond. Gillaspie said the district chose to proceed with a construction project; they would need to do so through a general election bond. The general election bond could have up to two questions. The first would need 60 percent voter approval to allow the district to levy up to $2.70 per $1,000 taxable valuation. If the district needed more funds, which looking at the scope of the project, Gillaspie said the district likely would, the second question would allow the district to impose a tax levy not to exceed $4.05.
Gillaspie noted Iowa properties are not taxed on their full-assessed amount, but rather a rollback amount. For residential properties, the rollback is 55.63 percent, 90 percent for commercial properties and 46.12 percent for agricultural land. Residential properties also received a homestead credit.
Essentially, for a home with an assessed value of $60,000, the change in annual tax payment would be $77.02.
The facility committee will meet next week to view the two remaining options. That meeting will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 16, at 6 p.m., in the media center.