Frequently Asked Questions
What are the facility needs at Charles City High School?
While Charles City High School has effectively served generations of students, the building has a series of facility needs that must be addressed soon. Specifically, there are key improvements needed to the systems and finishes in the 63-year-old building. There are also numerous items and equipment at the end of their useful lives and that need to be replaced.
Additional needs include safety and security improvements, technology upgrades, building accessibility, air conditioning, and spaces that support 21st century learning.
Why is now the right time to address the facility needs?
The district is at a point at which we cannot delay addressing our high school facility needs any longer. Although we continually strive to be a conscientious steward of taxpayer dollars, the district does not have the resources to complete the necessary improvements without the community’s support.
We believe the time has come to address our facility needs to ensure students continue to have access to the resources and spaces they need to be successful at Charles City High School.
What potential solution is the board considering?
At this time, the board is considering moving ahead with a plan known as “Revitalize.” It would include the following projects at Charles City High School:
Significant upgrades to safety and security
21st century learning spaces to enhance the educational environment for students
Revitalization of outdated circles and special needs area
Addition of an 800-seat auditorium
The proposed auditorium and a new secured entrance would be combined, filtering through the existing office. Part of the plan is designed to rethink the circles, taking out the inner walls and leaving the columns in place. This would create connections between the classrooms and resource areas.
The district and board are taking a frugal, no-frills approach to this project. We look to address the most critical needs that have been identified by our students, staff, and community members through the work of the task force and our recent community-wide survey.
How has the community been involved in this process?
Our community has been the driving force behind the process to address facility needs at Charles City High School. In fact, a community-led task force has been evaluating needs at the school for more than a year as part of the process to create a long-term facilities master plan.
The needs identified include improvements to systems and finishes in the 63-year-old building, along with the replacement of items at the end of their useful lives. These updates, along with technology upgrades, building accessibility, air conditioning, and spaces that support 21st century learning, have been identified as critical to effective teaching and learning for students now and in the future.
We listened to your input through community meetings and surveys to modify the project in a way that provides necessary upgrades within a budget that limits the impact on property taxpayers.
Why is an auditorium included in the proposed projects?
As the School Board became more aware of the community's desire for an auditorium, the feasibility of adding it to the project scope was considered. Further understanding of the district’s obligation to provide an adequate space for the performing arts resulted in the decision to add an auditorium to the prioritized needs.
Why wasn't the auditorium considered a need by the original task force?
At the time the original task force was conducting its work, the Friends of the Fine Arts was a community-based committee looking to raise money to fully fund an auditorium. Since then, we have re-evaluated the connection a performance arts center has with public instruction and believe it should be included in a referendum.
Since 1940, public schools in Iowa have been required to provide curriculum and instruction for the performing arts, such as drama, theater, and music.
What did the board learn from the community survey last fall?
More than 600 people completed our most recent community-wide survey, which indicated our community members are clearly interested and engaged in this important issue.
Of the four potential solutions presented in the survey, the “do nothing” option received the least amount of support, while 70 percent of those who responded believed the district needed to move forward with improvements. This indicates a clear desire in the community to address our high school facility needs.
What other options did the board consider?
Based on the work of the community-led task force, the School Board considered four options for addressing the high school facility needs. These options ranged from about $15 million to about $40 million. None of the original opinions included the full cost of an auditorium.
After reviewing feedback from the community, the board proposed a modified version of the first two options, which upgraded and updated the existing building and included a new auditorium. This plan, referred to as the “Revitalize” option, would address all the current structural needs of the high school (HVAC, electrical, and sewer systems) and remove the inner walls in the circles, for an estimated cost of $19 million. It also includes an 800-seat auditorium for an additional $9.5 million, bringing the total to $28.5 million.
Is the ‘Revitalize’ plan just putting a band-aid on the significant facility needs?
No, not at all. The original 1960 structure is solid and structurally sound, but is simply not suitable for 21st century learning. By fully remodeling, updating, and improving the building, we are saving taxpayers a considerable amount of money while achieving our goal of a safe and healthy learning environment. Below is a rendering of what the “circles” could look like:
Will community members get to vote on this?
Yes, if the current petition circulating in the community gathers 500 signatures, the question will be put forth to district stakeholders for a vote in fall 2023.
If the board places a bond question on the ballot, what would the tax impact be?
If the board places a bond issue question on the ballot for September 2023, the estimated property tax impact would be $2.70 per year on every $1,000 of taxable property value (not assessed value). For example, a home assessed at $150,000 would result in a property tax increase of about $179.28 per year, or $14.94 per month.
The district and board aim to keep property taxes as low as possible in our community and will continue to work to balance the needs of our students and schools with those of our community members as we invest in their local schools.
Is the draft plan the final finished design?
Yes and no. While the draft plan gives us a very close estimation of what the final project will look like, if the referendum passes, the district will be able to work with architects to finalize details, finishes, and, if necessary, make minor changes. These final design steps are built into the cost estimates so that the finished classrooms and gathering spaces are equipped to meet the needs of students and staff.
Will there be a middle school art room and an update to the high school art room?
There are currently two fully equipped art classrooms in the high school. Originally, there were three rooms in this same space, so it is possible to establish the third room to accommodate classes. In addition, one of the four science rooms is plumbed and currently being used as the Comet Shop. The proposed remodel would move the Comet Shop to a more visible location in the high school, freeing up space for a potential third art classroom.