FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Why build new classrooms, like an agricultural sciences room, when we already have ag science classes at the high school and middle school?
The current classrooms being used for ag science were not designed for this kind of program. For example, they lack space, water/plumbing, appropriate work stations, and natural lighting. With a strong agricultural sciences business and industry sector in our region, we want these types of career and technical programs to have modern and appropriate facilities for our students.
Having junior high grades at the current high school will also allow BCLUW to introduce them via exploratory classes to other career and technical fields, such as industrial technology/construction trades.
Why close some instructional space (like at the middle school), but build more at the other buildings?
The Board of Directors aims to continue fostering a small-school environment with more personalized educational experiences for our students by maintaining two sections at the elementary grades, when feasible. At the junior high and high school grade levels, the impact of incoming smaller grade sizes and the reduced state funding that accompanies declining enrollment means that some efficiencies and consolidations will need to be made.
A facilities analysis from an architectural firm indicated that the elementary and high school buildings have greater potential for use and will be less costly to update on a per-area basis. This analysis also recommended discontinuing the use of the current fifth-grade building for educational purposes.
Does this mean there will be fewer teachers and staff at BCLUW?
Yes. At some level, there will likely be reductions in the number of district staff due to changes in student enrollment numbers and corresponding levels of state funding. Regardless of the construction/renovations that occur, a shift to two buildings is likely to occur at some point in the future. However, the exact nature of those staffing changes cannot yet be determined.
Adding more classroom spaces will allow for more staff retention by relocating some staff from the middle school to the new elementary and high school classroom spaces. There are also teacher shortages in many subject areas across the state, and we believe that having modern and updated facilities, along with fewer travel requirements for staff that are shared between buildings, will better position BCLUW to attract and retain staff in the future.
If new additions and renovations at the elementary and high school are not made, what does that mean for BCLUW?
District leaders believe that BCLUW will need to consolidate to two campuses at some point in the near future, even if the current proposed plan is not approved. However, if the proposed additions and renovations at the elementary and high school do occur, it will mean greater educational opportunities for students, less congested classroom spaces, and a higher likelihood of continuing as a two-section elementary school in grades K-6. It will also remove any consideration of bringing in temporary/portable classrooms.
What is the plan for the middle school if the district stops serving grades 5-8 there?
The Board of Directors has expressed a desire to keep portions of the middle school facility—including the gym, cafeteria, library, and office areas—maintained for up to five years after any potential building closure to explore future partnerships or the transfer of property to the city/community. This may also involve a partial demolition of the current facility’s main classroom wings, a project that would be funded through sales tax bonds (rather than the proposed November GO bond)
What is the cost of the project and how would it be funded?
The architect’s overall estimate for the project is $13.4 million. Of that, about two-thirds (or $8.8 million) would be funded through General Obligation bonds that would be repaid over a 20-year period. A little over one-third of the project (or $4.6 million) would come from sales tax revenue bonds, which would have no impact on property taxes.
Funds generated through bonds like these cannot be used for things like staff salary and benefits, utilities, or fuel. If we move forward with these projects, we expect that, due to consolidations and increased efficiencies, there will be at least $16.1 million in savings compared to continuing with the current format over the initial 20-year period of BCLUW being a two-building school district.
Are there detailed plans/blueprints for all the proposed changes that I can see?
The Board of Directors hired an independent architectural firm to conduct a facilities analysis and to facilitate a master planning process for BCLUW. Input from a Facilities Committee of school staff members, board members, and other community members played a key role in the outcome of this planning.
To date, only very broad schematics have been created. This is because creating detailed blueprints is a labor-intensive and costly process. It would thus be fiscally irresponsible for the district and board to spend taxpayer dollars on blueprints before a bond issue is approved by voters.
Won’t the idea of closing a school building upset the people in our community?
District leaders understand and sympathize with the difficulties of potentially closing a school in our community. These have been difficult decisions in many areas of the state and nation, and some of them have happened very close to the BCLUW community. However, we also believe in addressing a reality where changing population demographics in Iowa mean that school leaders and the community must be willing to adapt to maintain a strong and viable rural school district at BCLUW for many years to come.
What are the enrollment issues that have played a big part in this decision?
The BCLUW area, like many parts of rural Iowa, has seen shifting population demographics. This has resulted in Iowa having more growth in larger, more urban/suburban areas and their neighboring “bedroom communities,” and an often declining population in more rural areas. From 2000 to 2022, BCLUW’s K-12 student enrollment declined by 31%.
When would BCLUW move to a two-building district?
The full design and project bidding phases will take at least several months. The goal would be for new construction and renovations to take place during the 2024 and 2025 calendar years. In addition to the facilities changes, this process will also require a great deal of time for planning and academic scheduling to ensure as smooth of a transition as possible. Fall 2026 may be the most likely time frame for moving to a two-building district.
Why should we build new secure entrances at both the elementary and high school?
School safety and security are top priorities for school districts. Historically, school construction often did not consider direct proximity with line-of-sight access control between the office and main entrance doors. These improvements will make our schools safer and more secure.
Why should we build an additional gym at the high school?
District leaders believe that an eventual move of junior high programming to the current high school building will be best accomplished by having additional gym space onsite. This will also offer greater opportunities for the school's physical education program, to host tournament play and community partnerships/youth sports. It will be a smaller competition gym than our current high school gym and is not meant to replace the current facility for varsity athletic purposes.
Why should we build additional locker rooms and restrooms at the northeast end of the high school?
Besides the addition of junior high programming to the site, restrooms that are easily accessed from the football field/track area without opening up remaining portions of the school building will be a much greater convenience for our fans. It will also significantly enhance overall building security.
Why should we make renovations to the high school auditorium?
While most of the high school is more modern, the auditorium is part of the 1969 addition that is now over 50 years old. In addition to school assemblies and programs, music, and theater productions, the auditorium is also used for community productions. While the district has replaced the original seating, many of the other systems are outdated and in need of replacement. The lighting and sound systems are priorities for upgrades, as are the consideration of updates or replacements for the stage and rigging system.
What is the property tax implication of a school bond issue?
The General Obligation bonds have a property tax impact of $1.95 per $1,000 of taxable valuation. The board is committed to an ask for this project that is much less than the $4.05 per $1,000 maximum that a school district can ask for in a facilities bond issue.
The project also leverages a significant amount (about 1/3 of the overall costs) in state sales tax bonds, which has no impact on property taxes. Additionally, the board is committed to reducing another levy, called the "Management Levy,” which will reduce the overall impact on property taxes.
It is important to note that, due to state rollbacks and other factors, the "taxable value" is much different (and considerably less) than the "market value" or "assessed value" of a property. See the Tax Impact page of this website for a calculator and more detailed information.
When is election day?
The election date is Tuesday, November 7, 2023.
If I'm not already registered to vote, how do I do that?
We encourage anyone to register to vote if they haven't already. Residents may register in the office of the County Auditor in person, may obtain a registration form online from their county website, may request that a registration form be mailed to them, or may register online at https://sos.iowa.gov. The deadline to pre-register to vote for this election is October 23, 2023. With appropriate identification, an eligible voter may also register to vote on election day in the precinct where the person lives.
Can I cast an absentee ballot in this election?
Yes! All absentee ballots must be received in the auditor’s office by the time polls close on election day to be counted. In-person absentee voting is available beginning October 18 and continuing Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. through November 6.
For more information on absentee ballots or to download an absentee ballot request form, see https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/electioninfo/absenteeinfo.html.
Can I vote in-person absentee?
Yes. Voters may complete an absentee ballot in person at their County Auditor’s Office during normal business hours. In-person absentee voting is available from Monday, October 23, through the end of the day on Monday, November 6.
Do I need an ID to vote in person?
Yes. Voters are required to provide an ID number on an absentee ballot request form. Voters must present an ID when voting early in-person or on election day. Find more information at https://sos.iowa.gov/elections.