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Our Students, Our Schools, Our Future

Posted January 05, 2015 in Community Blogs, Urbandale

On Tuesday, February 3, 2015, eligible voters within the boundaries of the Urbandale Community School District will have the opportunity to determine the future of facilities in our district—including five elementary schools (Jensen, Karen Acres, Olmsted, Rolling Green, and Valerius) and multiple ‘Activities’ projects—by voting in the Physical Plant & Equipment Levy (PPEL) Special Election. Please know, a great deal of research and planning have gone into developing the PPEL plan to ensure it supports the needs of our students, staff, and families. Over the past two years, the Board of Directors has considered and vetted numerous options for how best to prepare our facilities for current and future needs. I believe the proposed PPEL plan strikes the important balance between improving facilities and being fiscally responsible.

The district is seeking voter approval for a PPEL that will provide revenue for the renovation and remodeling of our elementary schools, as well as for the improvement of our Activity facilities, over the next 10 years.  While the district has done a great job maintaining our facilities, our five oldest buildings built in the 1950’s and 1960’s, are in need of renovation and remodeling to improve safety, increase energy efficiency, and create classrooms more conducive to today’s teaching and learning practices. In addition to a significant remodel of elementary buildings, the PPEL includes building two new gymnasiums throughout the district to provide greater scheduling flexibility for schools and increase gym availability for the public. It would also enable the district to bring kindergarten back to neighborhood schools—supporting the preference of 76% of families.

Proposed improvements for Activities include a new “sound cloud” at the UHS Performing Arts Center, improved lighting at the UHS baseball field, improved field drainage and surfacing for the baseball and softball fields, a new fitness room at UHS, and a new practice track at UMS, to name just a few.

If approved, the Urbandale Board of Directors intends to match the voter-approved PPEL with a bond refinance in order to keep the facilities property tax flat.

We have an amazing school district with outstanding learning opportunities for the 3,900 children we serve.  Community use of facilities is in high demand and our elementary schools are in need of significant updates. Without the voter-approved PPEL the district will not be able to undertake any plans to significantly improve our facilities beyond “normal” maintenance. Well-maintained and improved facilities contribute to effective learning environments as well as the overall improvement of neighborhoods and the potential for increased property value.

I hope you will plan to either vote early by absentee ballot or vote at the polls on Tuesday, February 3, 2015, and help us determine the fate of our district facilities. Learn more by downloading the PPEL brochure and visiting: UrbandaleSchools.com/PPEL


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