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Voters Rejected a Six School Plan in September; Will They Vote for Five?

A plan to replace three elementary schools and renovate two others is up for vote Tuesday.

 

All that the Ames Community School Board has been working toward since September is on the line Tuesday.

Voters will be asked whether they support a $55 million bond referendum to renovate and expand and elementaries and replace , and elementary schools. Edwards is the only school that would be relocated. (Click the names of the schools to find more about each school.)

In September the community a 6 school plan and ousted all board members who were for the plan.

Since four new faces took a seat at the board table they've worked diligently on a five school plan that the community would accept.

The only difference between September and Tuesday is the location of and that there are no plans to reopen Roosevelt Elementary.

Alisa Frandsen, a mom of three young children volunteering with the get out the vote effort, is urging people to vote yes for five reasons:

“No. 1, it upgrades our schools to provide a healthy and secure environment.

No. 2, it provides an adequate and flexible learning environment

No. 3, it's a jump into the 21st technological world. It brings our schools up to speed to accommodate technology well.

No. 4, it would attract families to live within the Ames Community School District.

No. 5, it would encourage businesses to locate families in Ames.”

Anyone wondering about the school's conditions can see YouTube videos posted on CitizensforAmesSchoolBond.com, she said.

Frandsen, who has a first grader at , and other community leaders including the Chamber of Commerce and the Ames Economic Development Commission were against the six school plan. Frandsen is voting yes for this five school plan and the Chamber and Commission are asking people to vote yes too. The organizations recently issued a letter in the five school plan's favor.

“The choice is clear. April 3 is an opportunity for the citizens of the Ames Community School District to underwrite the modernization of our elementary schools for a plan that will serve the children of our community long into the future. Exercise your right to vote and Vote Yes on April 3,” the letter said.

Unlike September there has been no organized opposition to the bond though there have been some reports of “Vote Yes” signs disappearing across town.

And School Board Member David Putz to approve the plan in February, because he said that the current board hadn't discussed it enough and he also had some concerns about the future of .

Frandsen disagrees on discussion and concerns about Mitchell.

“There has been years of discussion on facilities here in Ames. It's time for us to put discussions into action,” she said.

Current plans call for expanding Mitchell, the district's only school in the southeast part of town. Ames Community School District Superintendent Tim Taylor has said that he doesn't believe Mitchell would close in his lifetime.

A Kate Mitchell parent, Trace Houge Brakke, said she will vote for the plan. Brakke said she lives in a wonderful neighborhood around Mitchell and there are many great neighborhoods in Ames and none are more deserving of a school than another. Her mother attended Roosevelt Elementary School.

“None of my own children will directly reap the benefits of upgraded and rebuilt elementary schools. My goal, in voting yes, is that future elementary students will be as proud to attend Ames Community School District as our children have been," Brakke said. "Here's the bottom line: This vote is not about keeping my school open or reopening my mom's elementary building. ... It's about the future children of the Ames community,” she said.

Property Taxes

The $55 million bond in the first year because the general fund levy and the debt service levy are both dropping and the new bond levy will increase by about the same amount. That much is guaranteed since the board has already set the levy rate for the upcoming year. The board intends to keep the property tax increase at zero in future years through bond phasing and by using local option sales tax for schools funds, but how to spend sales tax dollars is something the board makes decisions on each year.

Project Cost

While the bond is set for $55 million the actual cost is believed to be about $60 million. The board won't be certain of the costs are until the new schools are designed and bid. The levy rates depend on many things including interest and phasing and the reported levy rate has changed through the planning process. Under the most current schedule the bond levy rate would be about $1.70 per assessed $1,000 valuation, but it wouldn't raise the school district's property tax collections since others are being reduced.

What You Need to Vote

If you have not registered to vote you can register at your polling place with a photo id and a proof of residence.

Four polling locations have been set up in each ward of the city. If you don't know what ward you live in you can look up your regular voting place here and then go to this page and see what ward you are in by searching for your location.

You can also look at this ward map of Ames here: http://www.citizensforamesschoolbond.com/pdf/AmesSchoolPollingPlaces.pdf

If you still go to the wrong place the auditor has you covered. A map has been posted at all 20 precincts telling you where to go.

You can also call the auditor at 515-382-7210 and ask.

Where to vote:

Ames Ward 1, Grant Township and Milford Township in the Ames School District vote at , Auditorium, 515 Douglas Ave.

 

Ames Ward 2 votes at , 1517 Northwestern Ave.

 

Ames Ward 3 and Washington Township in the Ames School District votes at , 2622 Lincoln Way.

 

Ames Ward 4 and Franklin Township in the Ames School District votes at , 2228 Lincoln Way.

Previous stories on the bond can be found at this topic page. The Ames Tribune also posted a voter's guide here.

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