This page will be updated with new information as new questions come to us to answer.

If you have a question regarding the Referendum 2020 Bond Election that isn’t answered on this website, please submit your question to this dedicated email address and we will try to respond as quickly as possible. referendum@southeastpolk.org

Important to Know

Referendum 2020 List of Projects

The plan includes projects to build, furnish and equip:

  • an elementary facility
  • a grade 6-7 facility
  • an administrative and support services facility
  • a buildings and grounds storage and bus parking facility
  • a multipurpose stadium facility, including parking and related site improvements

Also

  • to acquire land for the elementary and grade 6-7 facilities
  • to improve the softball field site
  • to equip and improve classroom instruction technology in instructional facilities

Referendum 2020 Key Points/Important Information:

  • Will not raise District taxes – Fluctuating tax rates are hard on taxpayers
  • Provides a dedicated funding source for these projects
  • One vote for future infrastructure needs over the next five years will diminish voter fatigue
  • SEP will finish collecting property taxes for all other outstanding general obligation debt in 2021
  • Interest rates are at historic lows
  • Delays in construction will increase costs due to inflation
  • In order for the referendum to be successful, 60% must vote yes

Tax Rate Lowered

  • Our current school tax rate is $15.44 per $1000 of taxable valuation. 
  • This rate has been lowered by more than $6.00 per $1000, or 29%, over the last 6 years.
  • Because of our strategic planning and proactive financial decisions, the District will not need to increase the school tax rate to issue these General Obligation bonds.
  • Again, this vote does not increase school district taxes but does provide a dedicated funding source for these projects.

When is the election? 

  • Election Day is September 8, 2020

Who, How and Where do I vote?

Who Can Vote?

  • A citizen of the United States
  • A resident of Iowa
  • You must live within the Southeast Polk School district
  • At least 17 years old to register (must be 18 years old to vote)
  • May vote before 18 in primary, if the voter will be 18 or older by the General Election.
  • Have not been convicted of a felony (or have had your rights restored)
  • Not currently judged by a court to be ‘incompetent to vote’
  • You must have given up your right to vote in any other place.

Where Can I Vote?

All polling locations will be open on Sept. 8. You may vote at any location within the Southeast Polk district. Follow this link to find the polling locations: https://www.polkcountyiowa.gov/county-auditor/election/news-and-announcements/special-school-election-tuesday-september-8th/

If you prefer, you may request an absentee ballot from the district office or pick one up at the Altoona Campus anytime prior to August 28.

What is the Proposed Timeline?


Timeline (3) (1)

Referendum 2020 General FAQs

What are the tax implications?

  • Will not raise district taxes
  • Fluctuating tax rates are hard on taxpayers – this will keep it stable
  • Provides a dedicated funding source for these projects

How much is the bond? Can the money be used to increase teachers’ salaries?

  • $92 million
  • Revenues from the issuance of General Obligation bonds can only be used for purposes allowed under Iowa Administrative Code 281.98 and cannot be used to pay teacher wages

What is the breakdown of the cost allocations? Pie chart

Where is the land that you are looking to acquire? Where will each of these new buildings/ parking/storage be built? What will be done with the current buildings?

  • The District is actively looking to acquire land but in order to protect the District financially, these discussions will be held with the School Board in closed session as allowed by law and also with prospective landowners. The purchase of land will be done so in a public meeting.
  • The Buildings & Grounds storage and bus parking will be done at and around the existing department building sites.
  • The administration building will be built either at the old location just east of the junior high or on land currently owned by the District west of 70th Street in the Rising Sun area.
  • The multipurpose stadium will be nestled east of the existing cross-country course just south of the high school.
  • Plans for existing buildings affected by these projects could include selling off the property or remodeling of the existing structure for purposes still being discussed.

Is now a good time to do this?

  • Issuing General Obligation bonds will not negatively impact property taxes for home and landowners.
  • The school district tax rate will not be higher than the current tax rate of $15.44. In fact, over the past 6 years, the school district’s tax rate has been reduced by 29% due to fiscally responsible decisions made by the School Board and the administration team.

We’ve been asked why we are pushing for this referendum. In a word – growth! In the past several years, we have outgrown our current facilities. This is a good thing! We’re so glad that people love our community but we must move forward with plans in order to properly handle this growth. Below are just some of the issues that we have experienced in the last years due to this growth and know that we will continue to challenge us per the projected student population for the next 5 years.

SEP Issues Solved by Referendum 2020

What’s the Plan?

Southeast Polk Community School District has created a 5-year plan to map our future growth and development. It includes designs to intentionally and strategically manage the district’s facility and infrastructure needs, financial health, and enrollment projections. This road map helps us share our vision for the future of our district and community.

Projected Student Enrollment FINAL (1)

What are the Project Details?

New Elementary Building

  • Largest incoming preschool class in recent history
  • Growth projection – Demographer cites growth at the elementary level over the next 5 years
  • Lack of capacity to handle growth – particularly on the district’s western side

New 6/7 Building

  • Ends the 1-year transition at Spring Creek
  • Jr. High = grades 8-9 
  • High School = grades 10-12
  • Addresses capacity issues at the high school – will avoid needing a second high school for the next 15 years
  • We currently have a bubble of students at the middle level – our only class of 600 will be 7th graders this fall
  • Traffic, parking, bussing, and general congestion issues are all addressed
  • Moves two grade levels off the main campus – both required parent dropoff or bussing since students not old enough to drive 
  • Becomes the building blocks for campus #2 when the growth reaches a point that it is necessary for HS #2 (likely 15 + years out)

 New District Office/Administrative and Support Services

  • “Current” District Office building has high levels of unhealthy air pollutants 
    • Tried to correct 4 years ago
    • Temporarily moved to old Altoona City Hall
  • Current administrative staff located all over the district
    • Inconvenient for families needing multiple support services
    • Difficult for support service departments to collaborate efficiently
    • Currently renting space for the district office
    • Costly to maintain multiple outdated support service buildings

Buildings and Grounds Storage and Bus Parking Facilities

  • Ivy Building is literally crumbling
  • Need additional warehouse space
  • Inadequate space for school bus fleet and other support vehicles

New Multipurpose Stadium

  •  Southeast Polk CSD currently has one multipurpose stadium for the entire district. 
  • The current stadium serves more students than any other extracurricular facility (dance, cheer, band, football, track, soccer). It is used by 
    • Jr. High Football
    • HS Football
    • Jr. High Boys Track
    • Jr. High Girls Track
    • HS Boys Track
    • HS Girls Track
    • HS Boys Soccer
    • HS Girls Soccer
    • HS Marching Band
    • Jr. High PE
    • HS PE
    • Cheerleading
    • RhythAMetteS
  • In the spring, approximately 400 students utilize the facility at one time for practice. 
  • Practice times run from immediately after school until after 9 PM on school nights to accommodate all sports and activities.
  • It is unsafe for 2 different groups to be in the facility at the same time, such as soccer and track. 
  • The stadium hosts the largest amount of visitors to a single event (football games and track meets are by far the most attended events we have.)
  • Our current facility is out of date, unsafe, not up to code, and does not meet federal guidelines for handicap accessibility. 
  • There are transition and transportation safety issues with our current facility setup.
  • Another multi-purpose stadium facility will lead to additional opportunities for ALL students and increase revenue for the activities department and SEP Athletic Booster Club. 
  • The high school physical education and music departments do not have “green space” to utilize for quality instruction and efficient use of time.
  • The facility will be located on the east side of the cross country course. There will need to be some adjustments to the course but the course itself will remain largely intact.
  • Cross Country will gain bathrooms, concessions, and a sound system
  • The current facility will be used for all Jr. High activities and other certain athletic events and activities.
  • Another outdoor multi-use facility on campus will lead to additional opportunities for ALL students and increase revenue for the activities department and SEP Athletic Booster Club. 
  • The estimated cost in 2019 for the new facility is $19.85 million, if built according to our timeline. Inflation will cause it to rise if not done according to the timeline.
  • The estimated cost to refurbish the current stadium is $8.9 million but also needs an additional track at $3.3 million, for a total of $12.2 million 
  • Multipurpose Stadium Comparison Chart
School # of Students # of HS Students* # of Stadiums # main stadium can hold
SEP 7203 1605 1 3700 (2500 home/ 1200 visitor)
Ankeny 12200 1334 5 8000
Waukee 10996 2267 3 7501
Valley West Des Moines 8810 2192 3 8500
Johnston 7370 1763 2 6000
Urbandale 4255 986 1 4200 (3000 home / 1200 visitor)
Bondurant Farrar 2081 470 2 2000 (1500 home/500 visitor)
Dallas Center Grimes 3000 644 2 3200
Roland Story 1164 243 2 1500 (1200 home/300 visitor)
Linn Mar 7519 1702 2 5000 home
*Data from Iowa BEDS 2020-2021 document

 

Land Acquisition

  • Plan to repurpose current facilities and land purchased including 18 acres in Rising Sun
  • Different parcels of land are being looked out throughout the district
  • As land is purchased, locations will be announced

Upgrade Softball Field

  • Update to include all-weather turf like our baseball field
  • Turf reduces the chances of practices and games being canceled due to weather, providing players more time on the field
  • Current field lighting inadequate
  • Equity among sports

Update Classroom Technology

  • Current technology in some classrooms are outdated making it challenging for teachers to teach – Current systems are 10-14 years old
    • Examples of tools to be purchased: flat panel interactive device, Document camera, web conferencing camera, audio equipment, and all of the necessary cables and accessories. 
  • Provides our students and staff the most up-to-date tools to leverage learning

What is the Referendum Language?

“Shall the Board of Directors of the Southeast Polk Community School District in the Counties of Polk, Marion, and Jasper, State of Iowa, be authorized to contract indebtedness and issue General Obligation Bonds in an amount not to exceed $92,000,000 to provide funds to build, furnish and equip an elementary facility, a grade 6-7 facility, an administrative and support services facility, a buildings and grounds storage and bus parking facility, and a multi-purpose stadium facility, including parking and related site improvements; to acquire land for the elementary and grade 6-7 facilities; to improve the softball field site; and to equip and improve classroom instruction technology at its instructional facilities?”