Why should this concern people who don’t have students in the district?
The projects proposed in this bond referendum will positively impact all taxpayers, even if they do not have students in the district. Great school facilities are integrally tied to a community’s economic vitality. Our students are going to be our future workforce, homeowners, and taxpayers, and our schools prepare them to be successful. When a community invests in its schools, it is investing in a brighter, stronger future for all.
If you or your children have already graduated from CRCSD, you likely benefited from previous bond decisions that helped build, maintain, or improve your school at the time. This bond will help to invest in our students today and into the future. These kids are our future.
Why is the proposed bond so big?
After decades of service, many of our buildings do not meet the needs of today’s students and educators. As our buildings continue to age, the cost of upkeep will continue to rise. The cost of construction also continues to rise, outpacing inflation. What we can build today will be cheaper than what we put off for the future.
What can bond funds be used for?
Bond funds can only be used to pay for new buildings, additions, renovations to existing facilities, land acquisition, technology infrastructure, and equipment for new or existing buildings.
Bonds cannot be used for staff/teacher salaries or operating costs such as utility bills, supplies, building maintenance, fuel, and insurance.
Can bond funds be used for teacher salaries or school operations?
No. By law, bonds cannot be used for teacher salaries or recurring expenses such as utilities and district operations. Bonds are used for one-time costs such as school facilities, capital improvements, instructional materials, and transportation.
However, the bond would likely have a positive impact on the district’s general fund by allowing the district to reallocate operating funds that are currently being spent on repairing aging facilities, mechanical systems, and technology. There would also be operational savings generated from more energy-efficient facilities that could be redirected to other programs and resources.
When was the last bond election in CRCSD?
The last bond for CRCSD was back in 2000. This was to help build Viola Gibson Elementary School along with some building renovation. Currently, the district has no bond debt. While we haven’t done a bond referendum in 23 years, we have asked the community to approve the continuation of the local option sales tax and PPEL funds.
What happens if the bond fails?
If voters fail to approve the bond question, the Facilities Master Plan will not have the funding needed to move forward. Needs like air conditioning, renovations, added security, ADA accessibility improvements, and more would not happen. The district and school board will have to reevaluate how to address the district’s short-term critical infrastructure repairs and work to revise the facilities plan to put forward to voters in upcoming years. SAVE revenue and PPEL funds are not sufficient to address all of the district’s facility needs.
Would the approval of the bond proposal have any impact on the district’s current operational budget?
While funding from this bond proposal is independent of the district’s general fund operating budget, the bond would likely have a positive impact on the district’s general fund by allowing the district to reallocate operating funds that are currently being spent on aging facilities, mechanical systems, and technology. The operational savings generated from new and more cost-efficient facilities could be redirected to other programs and resources.
After the bond is approved, can the list of projects funded by the bond be changed?
No, the district is obligated to do only the projects that are described in the bond wording on the ballot.
How will this bond election affect homeowners who are over 65?
Recently, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a new law into effect, the 65+ Homestead Exemption Act, that provides new property tax breaks for seniors (65+) and military veterans. You must file an application and meet the eligibility requirements in order to receive the property tax breaks. If approved, the homeowner will receive an exemption that will reduce the taxable value of their property. The law also limits how much money local governments can collect in taxes, regardless of changes in tax rate or property value. If you have applied for and received the 65+ Homestead Exemption, by law, your school taxes cannot be raised above their frozen level. The amount of taxes you pay is determined by the tax amount at the time your taxes were frozen.65+ Homestead Exemption Act
Is the taxable value of my home what it says on sites like Zillow or Redfin?
The final taxable value of your property is a percentage of its assessed value after credits. This is NOT the same as the current fair market value of your home that can be found on Zillow or Redfin. You can find the final taxable value of your property on the Linn County Assessor website.Linn County Assessor Website
What are the tax impacts of the bond request?
The bond would increase the district’s tax levy rate by $2.70 per $1000 of assessed taxable value. The final taxable value of your property is a percentage of its assessed value after credits. For a homeowner with an assessed taxable value of $200,000, the increase would be approximately $282 per year or $23.50 a month. That is less than a dollar a day.
How does our district’s tax levy rate compare to other school districts?
Our district’s tax levy rate is currently lower than the majority of the schools in Linn County. With the proposed $2.70 bond increase, the district’s tax levy rate would remain comparable to or less than many neighboring districts.
How did the district prioritize the projects going into this bond?
While planning the timeline for the projects that the bond will impact, we realized that some projects would need to be completed before the district can proceed with the other projects in Phase 2 of the Facilities Master Plan (FMP). For example, building a new middle school would give the district extra classroom space to temporarily house students, while renovations or construction could be done at other locations. The current building conditions were also a critical factor in determining the order of the projects and which ones should go first.
How will this bond issue benefit all students preparing for the future?
If approved by voters, a portion of the bond funds will be used to add and improve Career and Technical Education (CTE) classroom spaces at Jefferson, Kennedy, and Washington High Schools. CTE programs allow students to explore different career interests and develop employability skills to help better prepare them for college and career success. The classes provide diverse learning opportunities, including classroom work, hands-on experiences, job shadows, internships, and certification work. The district’s goal is by June 2027, all students will graduate with AP, college credit and/or industry certifications.
The district currently offers some CTE coursework in automotive, engineering, construction, manufacturing, business, computer science, and culinary arts. However, space is very limited in these classes, and students have to be turned away. While we offer three sequential years of coursework in some of these areas, others only provide one or two courses, which does not allow students to dive deeper into those areas. We partner with Kirkwood Community College for some of the advanced courses, but we also want to be able to offer full career pathways that supplement what is offered off-site.
The district has already started work to refine existing and identify additional career pathways based on input from district staff, students, and parents; business partners; and postsecondary education representatives. Feedback is still being collected regarding career pathways and the requirements to offer courses in high-demand and high-wage careers.
Is there help for people who cannot afford the tax increase?should voters pass the bond referendum?
There are several different options available. The first step we recommend is contacting the U.S. Government’s Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD. HUD provides a map of approved certified counseling agencies in each state. The HUD counselors will help assess your situation and determine if you qualify for property tax relief, such as the Homestead Exemption Act. The counselor can also help to see if you qualify to apply for other home-related savings, such as financial assistance on energy bills. Many of these services are free of charge.
Will the Phase 2 bond referendum in 2029 mean that residents will see another tax increase??
No. If approved by voters, the Phase 2 bond ask in 2029 would not be an increase of another $2.70/$1,000 taxable value. It would just be a continuation of the current level for more years. This is similar to what Prairie and Dubuque school districts are doing with their large bonds on the November 7th ballot.