Voters in Iowa City school district to weigh in on future - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Voters in Iowa City school district to weigh in on Revenue Purpose Statement

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) -

An over-crowded classroom at Grant Wood Elementary on Iowa City's southeast side is evidence of the district's dilemma.

We've got a wonderful problem in the Iowa City school district.  It's called growth," said Steve Murley, Iowa City Schools superintendent.

Currently 41 portable classrooms sit outside of 13 of the district's schools.

The growth isn't expected to taper off any time soon, projected to increase by another one thousand students in the next five years.

"We're behind right now.  We know we need to keep building to keep up with that growth," Murley said.

To help plan for the future, the district is asking voters Tuesday to pass a new revenue purpose statement- one that would allow the district to borrow $100 million through the year 2029.

The measure would replace a current local option sales tax set to expire in 2017.  If passed, the revenue purpose statement would give the school board immediate access to the money.

The district has a long list of needs, including major renovations to older buildings, three new elementary schools, and ultimately the construction of a third high school.

"Really, what this does is takes known projects and accelerates their completion date," Murley said.

A group calling itself 'People for All" is asking voters to say no.

"Just because we support the schools and the children, doesn't mean you should give unfettered access to $100 million for the Iowa City school board," said Deborah Thornton, the chair of the group.

Thornton has concerns about the way money from the current option sales tax has been spent.  She questions the lack of specifics and focus outlined by the district in the future.

"There's not a good plan.  We don't think they have used the last five years of money efficiently," Thornton said.

Opponents believe the school board should wait for results from a building capacity and needs study before asking for the public's vote.

Only a simple majority is needed to pass the measure.

For more information and a list of polling locations follow the link to the Johnson County auditor's office. 

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