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Bond Referendum for Keokuk School District

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Courtesy of the Keokuk School District
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The district's plan include renovations to Keokuk High School.

The Keokuk School District is asking voters to approve the issuance of $19.9 million in general obligation bonds to pay for construction of a new school and renovations at several facilities.

The special election for the bond issue will be held Tuesday, September 14. Polling places will be open from 7:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.  The polling places are:

  • The Heritage Center, 508 Main St, for Wards 1-4
  • First Christian Church, 3476 Main St, for Wards 5-7, Des Moines, Jackson, and Montrose

Early voting is already underway at the courthouse and continues until 5:00 p.m. the day before the election.
60% + 1 of voters will need to support the measure for it to pass.

Plan Details

Heidi Harness, Business Manager and Board Secretary for the Keokuk School District, said the district and community groups spent at least five years assessing school facilities and deciding how to improve them. During that time the district hired a firm to do a formal facilities assessment and later hired an architectural firm to help create a plan.

“We take a lot of pride in our district and take a lot of pride in our facilities, and we want to keep them in good standing condition,” Harness said. “(Students) learn so much differently these days and education really has to change to accommodate those needs and to be able to engage those kids.”

The plan includes four major projects:

  • The addition of a performing arts space at Keokuk High School and an improved secure entrance. Construction could start this fall. “The high school music addition is going to add classrooms for our band and our choir because right now their space is inadequate,” said Harness.
  • Construction of a new building for Grades 3-5. Construction could start this winter. Right now, Torrance School houses the Pre-K program, Hawthorne Elementary houses grades K-3, and George Washington School houses grades 4-5. Harness said if the bond issue passes, Torrance would either be sold or demolished. “Torrance is approaching 100 years old,” she said. The new alignment would allow Pre-K-through Grade 2 to be housed at Hawthorne and the new school would house Grades 3-5. She said the George Washington school building could re-purposed for storage and to house the district’s technology and payroll departments, which are currently at Torrance.
  • Upgrades to Calvert Stadium. Construction could start in fall, 2023. “That is just to the upper section of the home side and the seating there to make it handicap accessible,” Harness said, adding the restrooms would also be renovated to be handicap accessible. In addition, the district would make renovations to the press box and concession stand.
  • The addition of a cafeteria/multi-purpose room for Hawthorne Elementary. Construction could start in fall, 2024. Harness said the school’s gym currently doubles as its cafeteria.

Harness said the district also hopes to use a combination of bond money and revenue from the one-cent local option sales tax to install secure entrances at all of its schools.
Three public meetings have been held to provide information about the proposal. One more is scheduled for Wednesday, September 8, 5:30 p.m. at Keokuk High School.

More information can be found on the district’s GO Bond website.

The Cost to Homeowners

Harness said the district does not anticipate any tax rate increase for the first five years if the bond issue is approved. She said a slight increase is likely after that, “Around the dollar mark area.” Use the audio link below to listen to her explanation about the tax rate.

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