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Cedar Falls Voters To Decide School Bond Referendum

Courtesy: Scott Olson - Getty Images
Courtesy: Scott Olson – Getty Images

Voters in the Cedar Falls school district are being asked to approve a $118 million bond referendum to finance construction of a new high school and several other building projects.

The special election is taking place today (September 9, 2014).

District officials want voters to approve a property tax increase that would generate $87.5 million dollars to build a new high school and $19 million to construct a new three-section elementary school in Cedar Falls. The increase would be about $220 per year on a home valued at $100,000.

A “yes” vote would also generate $16 million for planned additions and renovations at North Cedar and Orchard Hill elementary schools. The current high school would be repurposed as the district’s educational and central services center at a cost of $4.7 million.

The combined cost of the projects is $128 million. District officials say the remaining $10-$11 million would come from future anticipated one-percent sales tax funds.

Some residents aren’t happy about the possibility of having to pay higher taxes. They’ve formed an opposition group that is urging residents to “Vote No On The 9th”.

Last month, Cedar Falls Schools Superintendent Andy Pattee announced the site for the proposed new high school. District officials want to build the new facility on a 50-acre parcel of land that’s located off West 27th Street west of the UNI-Dome.

The land is currently owned by the University of Northern Iowa. According to Pattee, the district is developing a purchase with UNI, but the offer is contingent on passage of the bond referendum. The Cedar Falls Board of Education and Iowa Board of Regents also must approve property sale, the price of which is still being negotiated.

District officials say 1,150 students were enrolled at the current high school during the 2013-14 academic year — a figure that’s above the building’s designed capacity. Pattee says the new high school would be built to accommodate 1,400 students.

Enrollment numbers are on the rise in Cedar Falls. Over the next 10 years, the district is expecting a 900-student increase across all grade levels.

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