Hawarden, Iowa — The voters in the West Sioux Community School District will be going to the polls on Tuesday, March 7th to decide the fate of a $14.9 million bond issue.
Backers say the bond would fund several additions, furnish and equip those additions, and remodel, repair, and improve the Ireton and Hawarden Elementary Schools, including related site improvements.
Voters defeated a similar measure a year ago. West Sioux officials tell us that after the last election, they reviewed concerns voiced during the community meetings and the changing economic conditions. The construction cost estimate rose from $230/square foot to $300 – $340/square foot making a new PK-5 elementary school financially unattainable. After considering options, the board decided to propose repairing and remodeling both existing buildings. They tell us the new plan is to replace considerable portions of the MEP (Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing) of both buildings. They say they are also looking to build additions at both facilities addressing the space issues. They say they will also look at other items that will make the buildings more energy efficient such as new windows, additional insulation, and possibly geothermal heating.
West Sioux officials say that over the long term, geothermal heating would save the district money in heating costs.
They tell us that the overcrowding in the West Sioux elementary buildings has forced students and teachers into storage areas, hallways, and portable buildings. Those who are for the bond issue say they believe that the heating system, windows, and other portions of infrastructure are no longer adequate and are overdue for an upgrade. They also believe that if these issues are not addressed as soon as possible they will only get worse and will become more expensive to repair or replace.
As for the timeline, those who favor the bond issue and construction tell us that if the bond issue passes, the district will immediately begin developing construction plans. These construction plans will go out to bidders in early fall. They say they would hope to begin construction in late fall or the following spring, and they anticipate construction will take 18 to 24 months. But they believe that any disruption to students and teachers should be minimal since they plan to use the summer months to do the majority of work inside the existing structures.
Backers of the bond issue tell us that if the bond passes, the tax impact on a $100,000 home, for example, would be an extra $11.19 per month. The impact on ag land in the district would be 33 cents per acre per month.
Polling locations for the March 7th election are the Hawarden Community Center and the Ireton City Council Chambers. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at both locations on Tuesday, March 7th, 2023.