On April 3rd, the Clarke Community School District is asking the community to vote for a proposed bond that will finance much needed updates and additions to the Clarke Elementary, Middle, and High School buildings, including a new bus barn and improvements for traffic, congestion, and student safety. While notification in the form of a school-wide flyer (also shown on the image to the right – click the image to print or view a full screen PDF) was sent home with students outlining the proposal, some confusion still lingers as to the extent of the changes as well as how it affects the community’s taxes.

What does the Bond Vote cover?

The Clarke Community School District Board consulted with an architectural firm, CMBA Architects from Des Moines, Iowa, and Estes Construction Company from West Des Moines for initial assessments. While the general assessment included several “wish list” items, the school board ultimately decided to focus on fiscal management and only address the most urgent issues, totaling $13 million.

With a 1999 bond that was approved for the school’s auditorium as well as improvements to the High School and Middle School lunchroom expiring in 2018, the decision to focus on the items listed below (also shown on the map to the right – click the map to print or view at full screen) were determined to be budgetable and, because of their similarities in costs, would avoid any increase in taxes for the community.

The Updates and Improvements Include:

  • Increased instructional space to address classroom and general building overcrowding
  • The creation of fully accessible (Americans with Disabilities Act {ADA} compliant) facilities – updating existing areas as well as adding the necessary elements for compliance
  • The creation of separate and secure entrances for the Middle and High Schools
  • The relocation of 6th grade classes to meet and maximize their current curriculum model
  • The relief of overcrowding at the Elementary school building
  • Updates to parking and street access around the Middle and High schools to improve traffic / bus congestion, and safety
  • The addition of a new bus barn to address leasing costs and convenience of the current facilities

Many of the misconceptions centered around the bond vote include the cost proposals outlined in the architect’s and construction company’s assessments and the actual elements outlined above. Improvements or additions to school facilities like football and soccer field updates were discussed at recent school board meetings. The decision to move forward on these projects was approved by using funds already available to the district from a budget specific to those needs.

The proposed road construction, connecting West Shaw and North Main to the school was also addressed.  While updates being covered in the bond include parking and street access, the purchase of the land and the construction of the roads were also able to be scheduled through other budgets and will not increase the bond position.

Steve Seid, Clarke Community Schools’ Superintendent emphasized, “What we’re trying to do is create a more suitable and safer space for our students, make updates that comply with ADA regulatory needs and position the district to better address student needs.”

This bond vote accompanies the PPEL vote that is renewed every 10 years and covers funding for transportation-related equipment, repair, and maintenance. The PPEL levy is not a new tax or tax increase and has been supported in recent votes to help the school and the community.

Come out and take part in the discussion:

Community information meetings that can be attended between now and the April 3rd vote include an open meeting (invite to the right) with Rob Smith, the Principal Architect from CMBA Architects held at the Lyric Theater, 118 S. Fillmore Street on Wednesday, March 7th from 5:00pm to 6:00pm.  Much of the details of what the bond vote will cover will be discussed at that meeting. The next Clarke School Board meeting will be held at the Clarke Community School District Administrative offices on March 12th, from 6:00pm to 7:00pm. And a third opportunity to discuss the bond will be at an open public information night at LifePoint Church on March 22nd at 5:00pm.

Parents and school officials are encouraged to keep the lines of communication open and as additional details on the bond vote come forward, they will be shared through the appropriate channels.

If you have questions or need additional information, please contact Steve Seid, Clarke Community Schools Superintendent at the Clarke Community School District Administrative offices, 800 N Jackson Street, Osceola, Iowa 50213, phone: 641-342-6505 or email sseid@clarke.k12.ia.us