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 62-year-old building. There are also numerous items and equipment that are at the end of their useful lives and 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 where 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Revitalization of outdated circles and special needs area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.
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 this 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.
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 secondary building. Ideally, one would serve as a middle school art room and the other a high school art room. There has also been a room, used by the elementary art teacher to assist with the teaching of some middle school art classes, that will be repurposed to a special education classroom as part of the renovation. Although we will have one fewer art classroom, the two fully equipped, remodeled classrooms will accommodate future needs.
What other options did the board consider?
Based on work of the community-led task force, the School Board considered four options for addressing the high school facility needs. These options, listed below, did not include the cost of an auditorium.
Option A would focus on addressing needs in the existing building. With this option, the district would renovate the high school to address only the most critical or immediate needs. The approximate cost of Option A would be between $13.4 million and $17.3 million. For taxpayers, this would equate to approximately $4.11 per month for a home valued at $100,000, or $32 per month per 320 acres of agricultural property.
Option B would reimagine the high school building. This would be done by creating a 28,000 square-foot addition and renovating 198,500 square feet of the existing non-renovated spaces, for a total renovation of 226,900 square feet. It would include creating a new music wing and a new commons and leadership space, along with a secure entrance and providing an option for a future auditorium.
The approximate cost for Option B would be between $28.4 million and $32.8 million. The property tax impact would be about $12 per month per $100,000 home value, or $95 per month per 320 acres of agricultural land.
Option C would replace the spaces that do not fit the needs of our students and staff—primarily the circle buildings. This option would include building an addition with approximately 57,000 square feet and renovating approximately 210,000 square feet of existing spaces.
Option C would cost between $33.9 million and $37.9 million. This would break down to $16.02 per month per $100,000 home value, or $126 per month per 320 acres of agricultural land.
Option D would not address the district’s facility needs at this time. However, it was noted that with projected interest rates, the project would cost an additional $4.5 million or more if the district waits three years. It would cost an additional $7.6 million or more if the district waits five years.
After carefully reviewing the feedback from our community and fully considering the financial impacts, the board decided to propose a modified version of Option A, referred to as “Revitalize.” This would include the construction of a new auditorium.
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 62-year-old building, along with the replacement of items at the end of their useful life. 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.
What did the board learn from the community survey earlier this year?
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 clearly indicates there’s a desire in the community to address the facility needs in our high school.
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 March 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 $206.13 per year, or $17.18 per month.
Stakeholders can use this table to estimate the tax impact on their property.
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.