Fate of Iowa City School District's revenue-purpose statement to be decided today


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The Iowa City School District faces two major votes today — one decision is in the School board’s hands and the other in the community’s.

Community members in the district will vote today on the revenue-purpose statement in 27 polling places across the county, while the School Board meets later this evening for the third reading of the proposed diversity policy.

“There are facility needs throughout the district, both new facilities and rehabilitation of existing facilities,” Mayor Matt Hayek said. “The RPS is an important step towards addressing those needs.”

The revenue purpose statement is a funding plan that would allow the School District to borrow up to $100 million through 2029 against future sales taxes. These funds would be used to renovate current facilities and build new elementary schools in North Liberty and Iowa City.

These local-option funds would be put in the state’s hands, but then returned to the district to allocate. This would allot the district to allocate the funds as officials see fit, rather than following state mandates that may not fit the needs of the district.

The School Board unanimously endorsed the funding plan in November 2012 at a meeting with six of the seven board members in attendance.

The Iowa City City Council passed a resolution on Jan. 22 to endorse the proposed funding plan, along with the proposed diversity policy.

Concerns have been expressed about the lack of transparency with the immediate plans for the funds, but officials remain confident in the School Board’s agenda.

School Board member Sally Hoelscher said although the current revenue statement seems broad; this allows the district to change and alter the plan as the community needs change, placing a confidence within the school board.

“Is there a level of trust passing the RPS? Yes,” Hoelscher said. “But there is also along the way opportunities for the community’s input, because every time the administration makes a decision, they’ll have to come to the board with a specific plan.”

City Councilor Jim Throgmorton also feels confident in the School Board’s ability to appropriately distribute the funds.

“It is a bit ambiguous, but it clearly delegates the major things that the school district proposes to spend money on and that is sufficient,” he said.

If community members fail to pass the revenue-purpose statement, School Board members maintain they will try again within six months before the opportunity expires.

Despite some concerns and comparable approval, officials maintain work lies ahead, whether or not the statement passes.

“Based on that detail, it seems to be the general approach is a good one,” Hayek said. “But clearly, a lot of work remains in terms of identifying with greater detail the needs of our schools’ facilities.”

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