Why are we voting on a new high school?
On April 3, 2018, the Ames community will vote on a bond referendum for a new high school that will have the learning space and security features that our current building lacks, as well as additions to three elementary schools: Meeker, Mitchell, and Edwards. The amount will not exceed $110 million and requires a 60% approval from voters.
What is the status of the current high school?
Initially built in 1960, our current building has 15 additions, 13 elevation changes, and 82 exterior doors on the building. When Haila Architecture did their Phase 1 study, they cited the circulation of students within the building, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility, along with a lack of security features as major concerns.
The first brick school building in Ames, known then as Central School, was built in 1880. When two elementary schools were built at the turn of the century, Central School was used exclusively for high school students until 1911, when a new high school was built across the street. That first school building was demolished in 1937 to make way for Ames’ third high school building. It served students for 22 years, and has since been extensively remodeled and today serves as our City Hall. Our current high school opened in 1961 and has been by far the longest standing high school in Ames, educating students for 57 years. For a historical perspective, here is how long each building has functioned as a high school:
- High School #1 (1880 – 1911) – 31 years
- High School #2 (1911 – 1939) – 28 years
- High School #3 (1939 – 1961) – 22 years
- High School #4 (1961 – 2018) – 57 years
Who can vote?
Registered voters within the Ames Community School District who are 18 years of age and older can vote on April 3.
Where will the new high school be built?
A new high school is projected to be built along Ridgewood where the practice fields are currently located. Thanks to 1% sales tax, the softball field has already been relocated to the 24th Street athletic complex, and the tennis courts will be moved there in 2018 using PPEL funds. That opens up an entire area to build a new high school. After the new building opens, the current building would be replaced with practice fields.
Learning Landscape Model
A new building will align with today’s educational needs and offer students space to collaborate, communicate with each other, and problem solve. These are the 21st Century Skills that are vital for student success. A new building will have flexible learning spaces, the latest technology that students can access, and plenty of natural light.
The Ames CSD has made it a priority to be fiscally responsible with taxpayer money. When voters approved the $55 million bond in 2011 to renovate and rebuild the elementary schools, the District implemented a practice of prepaying General Obligation bonds. This was the practice when we paid off the middle school early, and we will save upwards of $6 million on the elementary bond when the District becomes debt free on June 30, 2020. If the taxpayers vote to approve a referendum for a new high school, the school portion of the voter’s property tax rates will not increase as a result of the project. Those funds can only be used on the construction of a new high school, and cannot go toward teacher salaries or student programs.
Why elementary schools as well?
Enrollment in the Ames CSD has increased significanly over the past year. In fact, more than 200 students are attending our schools compared to the previous year with many in our elementary schools. As a result, many of those schools are approaching capacity and need additional classrooms to serve students. We hope that you found this summary of the bond referedum beneficial, and we encourage you to vote on April 3rd.
Shall the Board of Directors of the Ames Community School District in the County of Story, State of Iowa, be authorized to contract indebtedness and issue General Obligation Bonds in the amount not to exceed $110,000,000 to provide funds to build, furnish and equip a new high school building to replace the current high school and improve the site, including demolition, grading, and site improvements; and to build, furnish and equip an addition to the Meeker, Mitchell and Edwards elementary buildings, including related remodeling and site improvements.
Summary of Key Points
- The current building has 15 additions since 1960 and 13 elevation changes
- Major concerns include the student circulation and security features
- Development of 21st century skills
- 3 years to build new, 5 years to renovate
- Property taxes will remain the same