Hempstead High School $30 million renovation project complete - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Hempstead High School $30 million renovation project complete

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

Step inside Hempstead High school in Dubuque and you'll notice big changes.

"It looks so great...I'm in love with it," said  Senior Tracey Beresford.

The nearly 50-year-old school underwent a $30 million renovation.

Changes include a new 700 seat auditorium, a gym with two courts, a weight room and dining areas.

In addition to the other changes, Hempstead has also added a choir room where students with musical talents can perfect their craft.

It was all made possible by Iowa's state-wide one cent sales tax.

"It's a restricted chunk of money that  can only be used for facilities or  technology," said school board member Tom Barton.

Although all schools in the state get the penny tax, some schools in eastern Iowa are facing challenges when it comes to funding. 

Both Cedar Falls and Monticello districts recently tried to pass school bonds for extra funding and failed.

While Dubuque schools didn't use any bonds to pay for the renovations, board members say the reasons can vary why some communities would vote no.

"Sometimes people vote against bond measures because they feel that the schools don't really need the improvements that the school board and the city leaders say it does," said Barton.

Board members say voters also don't want to get taxed more.

Meanwhile, Hempstead students feel like they are thought about.

"I feel so important and actually cared for," said Beresford.

Every year the Dubuque School District gets about $11 million from the penny tax. They actually borrowed ahead to get this project done.

The penny-tax is set to expire state-wide in 2029. 

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