2017 ICCSD General Obligation Bond Frequently Asked Questions aka FAQs

Question :  What do Iowa City Community School District (ICCSD) voters vote on during the September 12th election?

A. Bond Ballot Referendum Language;
B. Facilities Master Plan (FMP) of the Iowa City Community School District (ICCSD); or
C. Specific projects at specific schools.

Correct Answer: A.  Voters vote only on the bond ballot referendum language1.  The bond ballot referendum is NOT the Facilities Master Plan (FMP). Voters do NOT vote on ICCSD’s FMP, which can be changed in the future (so don’t count on the FMP).

For district publicized past changes to the FMP, see the links here and here

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Question: Does the bond ballot referendum language assign specific dollar amounts for specific schools?

A. No.
B. Yes.
C. Maybe

Correct Answer: A. No, the bond ballot referendum language (found below) does NOT assign or otherwise tie specific dollar amounts to any specific schools or projects. The language does NOT even mention specific dollar amounts other than $191.525 million.

If the referendum passes, the district is authorized to issue general obligation bonds over time (there will be more than one bond issued) for up to $191.525 million in principal, and then property taxes will be used to repay this principal plus interest. The funds obtained from the bonds can be spent according to the bond ballot referendum language, which does NOT require the district to spend a certain amount of money on a certain school or project.

Over the years that the bonds are issued, there will be some statement and disclosure (see here for examples) along with spending requirements.

The FMP can be changed by future boards to include other projects (or exclude currently planned projects) so long as they do not stray from ballot language approved by the voters.

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Question:  If the bond ballot referendum passes on September 12th, can the district be held accountable if it does not complete all of the projects in its current FMP or in other descriptions of the projects?

A. No.
B. Yes, because what is in the description is also listed in ICCSD’s FMP;  or
C. Yes, because the description of my school’s proposed projects is on my school’s website.

Correct Answer: A. Voters vote on only the bond ballot referendum language. Pictures, promises, designs or descriptions about projects that are outside the  ballot referendum language do not count–so read the ballot language carefully before you vote. And remember that not all projects listed in the ballot referendum language have to be done.

No one can guarantee what future boards will or will not do so if someone informs you that certain FMP projects will be done, please be skeptical because no one knows what future boards will decide.

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Question: Has ICCSD’s board made changes to its facilities master plan (FMP) in the past?  

A. Yes, it has made substantial changes.
B. Yes, but the changes have been minor.

C. No.

Correct Answer A.  Yes, the board has made substantial changes to its the Facilities Master Plan (FMP) at some of the schools.  For example, the board deleted 480 planned seats from inner Iowa City Schools–Lincoln, Longfellow, Mann and Shimek–in 2015 and added 75 planned seats at Lemme for a net loss of 405 seats to inner Iowa City schools at that time. In 2017, the board reportedly “delete[d] 5 classrooms from the original 5 classroom addition” at Lemme and added “proper sized classrooms for both music and art programs.” See here and here for reported changes.

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Question: Does the bond ballot language 1 approved by a divided 5-2 ICCSD board require that projects in ICCSD’s current FMP projects be done?

A. No.
B. Yes.
C. Maybe.

Correct Answer:  A. No.

Any statement that says projects in ICCSD’s Facilities Master Plan must be done is NOT true.  Likewise, any statement that says the projects in the bond have to be done is NOT true.

Bond Ballot language

ICCSD General Obligation Bond Ballot Language

Approved by Divided 5-2 ICCSD Board

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Question: Could ICCSD’s district officials have presented bond ballot referendum language to the public that more closely reflected its FMP so that the district could be made accountable to voters if the bond passes and it does not keep its promises made to voters? 

A. Yes.
B. No.
C. Maybe.

Correct Answer: A. Yes; however, it did not do so.

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Question: Is proposed $191.525 million dollar school bond ballot referendum Iowa’s largest school bond vote?

A. Yes.
B. No.
C. Maybe.

Correct Answer: A. Yes. You can find a link to Iowa’s 2015-2016 Bond Election Results here and past school bond election results here.

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Question: If the bond ballot referendum passes, is ICCSD  required to keep schools like Lincoln or Hills or Horace Mann or Shimek or TREC (Theodore Roosevelt Education Center) or others open?

A. No.
B. Yes.
C. Maybe.

Correct Answer:  A. No.

Even if voters approve the existing bond referendum, there is nothing in the bond ballot referendum language that would stop school district officials from later deciding to close a now existing school.

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Question: If approved by voters, does the bond ballot referendum require a historic renovation for Horace Mann?

A. No.
B. Yes.
C. Maybe.

Correct Answer:  A. No.

Even if voters approve the existing bond referendum, there is nothing in the bond referendum language that requires any school renovation to be “historic.”

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Question:  Does the bond ballot referendum state a location for a specific school?

A. No.
B. Yes.
C. Maybe.

Correct Answer: A. No.

There is no specific location specified for an existing school in the bond ballot referendum language.

Consider 1) the past decision by an ICCSD board to “retire” the “existing” Hoover and build “new” Hoover after district officials and representatives promised voters prior to their vote on ICCSD’s 2013 Revenue Purpose Statement that all existing schools would be renovated, and 2) the failure of the bond ballot referendum language to even commit both specific dollar amounts and specific locations to existing schools.

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Question: Does the bond ballot referendum language provide that projects set forth in ICCSD’s facilities master plan be done by a certain date?

A. No.
B. Yes.
C. Maybe.

Answer:  A. No.

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Question: Does the bond ballot referendum require that promised projects must be completed in a specific order?

A. No.
B. Yes.
C. Maybe.

Answer: A. No.

There is no specific order in which projects must be completed.

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Question: If the bond does not pass, what happens?

A. The district can bring an improved bond referendum before the voters in six months.
B. There can be alternative sources of funding down the road.
C. Both A and B.

Answer: C. Both A and B are true.

There can be alternative sources of funding down the road. 

If the bond referendum is voted down, ICCSD can bring an accountable transparent bond referendum forward in six or more months. School districts sometimes (or perhaps often) pad their first bond request so the next bond request should (but is not guaranteed to) be smaller.

Alternatively, or in addition to, in the next few years, the Iowa legislature may extend the penny sales tax for schools from the year 2029 through the year 2049 making an anticipated $440 million available to the district and perhaps making a bond unnecessary (see the picture immediately below from a district document).

20170722_155217

From ICCSD’s Facility Master Plan (FMP) Proposed General Obligation Bond Funding Key Facts and Details 1/10/2017

There may also be additional funding sources such as a future PPEL funds, the district could seek a PERL, etc.

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By now, if you support the Facilities Master Plan as it exists today, you should be concerned and ask why the ICCSD district officials did not have enough confidence in ICCSD’s plan to write specific and accountable bond ballot referendum language to put before the voters.

Voters deserve a bond referendum that makes school officials accountable for following the existing Facilities Master Plan. Remember, only the ballot bond referendum language counts. Please mark your calendars and vote on September 12th.

 

 

1Bond Ballot Language: Shall the Board of Directors of the Iowa City Community School District in the County of Johnson, State of Iowa, be authorized to contract indebtedness and issue General Obligation Bonds in an amount not to exceed $191,525,000 to provide funds to address health, safety, and accessibility issues in all school buildings, including air conditioning all school buildings, reducing the use of temporary classroom structures in the District, addressing classroom, lunchroom, and gymnasium overcrowding, and dedicating rooms to art, music, prekindergarten, and science by constructing, furnishing and equipping a new building, constructing additions to and/or remodeling, repairing, and improving the school buildings remaining in the District’s Facilities Master Plan, as follows: Mann and Lincoln renovations, Liberty High athletic facilities construction and site improvements, new elementary school construction in North Liberty and site improvements, West High renovation, South East and North Central Junior High additions, Shimek renovation, City High addition and upgrades, Wood addition, Wickham upgrades, Garner and Northwest additions, Liberty High addition, Horn renovation, Kirkwood addition, Borlaug, Alexander, and Lemme additions, and Tate High addition and upgrades?

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This entry was posted in Board, Bond, Bond Ballot, Bond vote, Facilities, Facilities Master Plan, General Obligation Bond, ICCSD, Iowa City Schools, Iowa Schools, PPEL, Referendum, Steve Murley, Superintendent, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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