Task force created for future bond vote
The South Tama County School District is gearing up for another potential attempt for a bond issue in March of 2022.
The district is doing two things to engage the community by creating a task force and doing a survey.
The task force is made up of a diverse group of 12 community members. The process for selecting the task force included names being recommended to Superintendent Jared Smith. Those names were then passed on to Larry Fletcher and Elizabeth Dolezal. The two went through the list to determine any repeat suggestions and finalize a group which includes parents, former teachers, farmers, people with no kids in the school district, etc. The final group includes Fletcher, Dolezal, Sue Carnahan, Dalia Fuentes, Nicole Hraback, Rick Hopper, Doug Stadler, John Surman, Autumn Keahna, Matt Zmolek, Charlotte Upah and Joann Wacha.
The task force held their first meeting May 6. Present at the meeting were STC Superintendent Jared Smith, representatives from Invision Architecture and Estes Construction and most of the members of the task force.
According to Dolezal the meeting was a time for introductions, history of the project, discussion of the community survey, size versus location and what success looks like for the district.
The task force intends to meet monthly. At their next meeting the group will discuss results from the survey.
The ultimate goal of the task force is to make a recommendation to the school board about what to do regarding aging facilities, particularly the middle school building in Toledo which is 106 years old.
The school, in partnership with Invision Architecture, has launched an online survey seeking to gather thoughts and information and reevaluate the communities priorities around the needs at the middle school.
The public survey is eight questions long and asks participants to rank and prioritize several choices relating to things like handling the cost of a facility project, where to locate a middle school, facility maintenance and upkeep, what is most important inside classroom and educational areas and what is most important in areas outside and around a middle school facility.
The survey remains open as of Friday, May 28.
History of the bond
South Tama schools went to voters 14 months ago seeking approval to construct a $29 million middle school facility south of the STC High School in Tama. The March 2020 bond measure won a majority vote with 53.9 percent approval but ultimately failed to reach the necessary 60 percent approval to move forward.
Five months following the bond vote, the middle school facility in Toledo sustained significant storm damage and has been unavailable to hold classes during the 2020-21 school year while repair work is being completed.
Classes are anticipated to resume in the Toledo building in August at the start of the upcoming school year.
While this is a start to a new bond the task force is taking information previously gathered such as a facilities study to move forward. Nothing is off the table as far as ideas for what to bond. Dolezal said the group is open to all ideas including a new high school versus a new middle school.
One of the key differences for this potential bond vote versus the vote in 2020 is the bonding capacity the school now has. Since the last vote the school has paid down the Elementary.
“One thing we’ve heard and learned from Invision Architecture and Estes Construction is that most successful projects are community driven. The solutions have to stay within our community for the long run. The community exercises in priorities what a successful project looks like for us and determines the shape the project takes and whether long term operational cost is more important than short term construction cost. The nice thing we are hearing is with a community driven project we are hearing from the cross section of community members we’ve brought together for a steering committee to help drive and listen and bring feedback from the community. So it’s not the board of education saying this is what a successful project looks like for our district. It’s not just the administration saying what a successful project is and not just educators. Those are all important opinions but taxpayers and community members across the board are going to drive the project.” Dolezal said.