Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What construction projects will the bond issue fund?
A: The projects funded by the bond will include an elementary addition to the MS/HS building to replace the existing elementary facility including playgrounds, parking and bus drop; secure vestibules at the elementary and MS/HS, miscellaneous renovations inside the MS/HS building, mechanical/electrical upgrades in the MS/HS building, and a 4 or 6-lane track. Should funding be available, a new transportation facility will also be considered.
Q: How much is the bond referendum?
A: The bond referendum has been set for $18.6 million.
Q: If the referendum passes, how much will property taxes increase?
A: Estimated cost impact is $14.88/month for $100,000 of assessed valuation of residential property and an average of $5.94/year for an “average” acre of farm property in Dickinson and Osceola counties. Remember, property tax is calculated on the taxable value of property, which involves the assessed value and applicable estimated rollbacks. Farm property is not taxed on the market value of the land but utilizes the productivity value to arrive at the assessed valuation. This is a 20-year tax levy.
Q: How does the anticipated overall levy rate of the District compare historically?
A: The District’s tax levy rates is forecasted to be around $12.59 if the bond issuance passes. When the last bond issue was passed, the District’s levy rate ranged around $12.97 and $13.97. Over the past few years, the District has been fortunate to pay off the prior bond issue and put themselves in a healthy financial position. Over the past 26 years, the District’s levy rate has averaged $11.05, with a high of $13.97 and a low of $8.28.
Q: What happens if the construction bids for the project come back higher than expected?
A: The Board of Education has several options available if bids come back higher than expected. One option is to direct the architects and engineers to review and critically analyze the construction plans to try and discover ways to make more economical options without sacrificing quality. A second option is to locate other funding sources such as grants and donations.
Q: Does the referendum include a budget for furnishings?
A: Yes, furnishings and equipment allowances are included within the project budget.
Q: WHAT ARE THE TWO BOND REFERENDUM QUESTIONS THAT WILL BE ON THE BALLOT FORM?
A: QUESTION 1
Shall the Board of Directors of the Harris-Lake Park Community School District in the Counties of
Dickinson and Osceola, State of Iowa, be authorized to contract indebtedness and issue General
Obligation Bonds in an amount not to exceed $18.6 million to provide funds to construct, build,
furnish, and equip an elementary addition to the Middle/High School building; to renovate, remodel,
repair, improve, furnish and equip portions of the existing Middle/High School building, including the
auditorium and a secure entryway, and improve the site; and to construct athletic
improvements/facilities on the Middle/High School site?
Shall the Board of Directors of the Harris Lake Park Community School District in the Counties of Dickinson
and Osceola, State of Iowa, be authorized to levy annually a tax exceeding Two Dollars and Seventy
Cents ($2.70) per Thousand Dollars ($1,000), but not exceeding Four Dollars and Five Cents ($4.05)
per Thousand Dollars ($1,000) of the assessed value of the taxable property within said school
corporation to pay the principal of and interest on bonded indebtedness of said school corporation, it
being understood that the approval of this proposition shall not limit the source of payment of the
bonds and interest, but shall only operate to restrict the amount of bonds which may be issued?
Q: Who can vote on the referendum?
A: Anyone who lives in the Harris-Lake Park School District, is eighteen years of age, and is registered to vote can cast a ballot on November 7. Anyone not registered can do so ahead of the election date or at the election site on election day. If a person did not vote in the last election, they must re-register to vote on November 7th.
Q: Where are the polling locations and when can a person vote?
A: Polling locations are:
• Harris – Harris Civic Center
• Lake Park – Lake Park Community Building
Hours to vote are 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Q: Voting by mail?
A: If you are unable to vote on November 7, you can vote early by using an absentee ballot. You can request a ballot via mail by completing an absentee ballot request form available at the auditor’s office.
Q: What is needed for the referendum to pass?
A: General Obligation Bond referendums require 60% of the votes cast to be “yes” votes. In recent years, multiple school bond referendums have been decided by a very small margin of votes. This demonstrates that everyone’s opinion and vote is important!
Q: Can a school use bond money to give teachers or staff a raise or pay employment related expenses?
A: Absolutely NOT. These are two separate pots of money. Teacher salaries are paid from the General Fund. The fund that bond money goes into is ONLY to be used for infrastructure improvement.
Q: Will construction interfere with student learning?
A: No. The Architect will work with the School Board to develop a construction schedule and logistics. Renovations and additions will happen in a phased approach while maintaining safety standards that will limit any disruptions to student learning.
Q: Will the renovation add classes to the curriculum or teachers to the payroll?
A: No additional classes or teaching positions will be added directly due to the additions/renovations. However improved learning spaces and updated technology will allow for the possibility of expanding current programs. Staffing efficiencies may also be realized with a one campus facility plan.
Q: Will this project save us money?
A: Taking the existing elementary building off-line will save the District money. The existing building is larger than the proposed addition. Operational cost savings on less space is projected to save roughly $16K per year. Annual maintenance on the old building will be eliminated and new construction will require significantly less annual maintenance. New infrastructure and building systems will be more efficient and save $ on utility bills. Efficiencies with staffing could be projected to save around $75K yearly between certified and non-certified staff.
Q: What is the proposed construction timeline if the bond referendum passes?
A: The exact schedule is yet to be determined. The anticipated schedule is for design work to be completed in Spring 2024 with bidding in late spring and a summer construction start.
Q: What do our current enrollment numbers say about the future of the School District?
A: Enrollment is trending steady with no significant growth expected short of new community development or industry changes.
Q: What safety and security features will be included in the project?
A: Safety and security features include bus drop being separate from MS/HS traffic, a secure vestibule at both elementary and MS/HS main entrances, safety lockout function on door hardware in all student occupied spaces, and a security camera system around the site.
Q: How will these improvements provide our students with a better education?
A: Upgrading facilities has a proven impact on student learning. Upgrades usually include the latest technology, versatility of space use, safety/security improvements, and accessibility for all. Research has also proven that natural lighting in learning environments also improves learning.
Q: I don’t have any students in school, why should I support this referendum?
A: Everyone at some point in time has helped support a school that they themselves did not have children attending. It is likely that someone supported you when you were in school that had no children of their own attending at that time. This concept is fundamental to democracy. Small communities need strong schools, and strong schools help maintain strong property values. If we prolong the process, that only means additional costs and higher taxes down the road.
Q: Is income surtax detrimental to senior citizens who are on a fixed income? Are seniors on social security taxed through the income surtax?
A: Social Security wages are not taxable – and an individual that owns property and is living on Social Security wages actually benefits from a lower property tax rate and a higher income surtax rate for the reason that they are not taxable so they do not pay.
Q: What will be done with the old Elementary School property?
A: No plans have been made for the sale of the property to an outside entity. Other options for building/site development are being explored. If there is no interest, the school district will pay for the demolition of the building.
Q: Why is the existing elementary school being replaced and not renovated?
A: There are many significant issues with renovating the existing facility including age and functionality of building systems/equipment, infrastructure deficiencies, safety/security concerns, building code violations, ADA/accessibility deficiencies, space layout problems and maintenance issues. In this case, the nature and severity of these deficiencies put the cost of renovations higher than new construction. Although some parts of the building are thought of as “new”, the main addition was completed in 1977 (more than 45 years ago) while the original building (gym portion) dates to 1950. With any renovation option, many aging existing components (structure, systems, finishes) will remain.
Q: Will there be any funds dedicated to HVAC/Electrical work in the MS/HS building?
A: Yes, systems repairs/upgrades are part of the facility plan. Deficiencies identified by a previously completed building assessment will be incorporated into the project.
Q: What are the “Athletic Improvements” that are planned?
A: Athletic Improvements include the addition of a 4 or 6-lane track and, depending on how bids come in, other athletic amenities/upgrades to existing athletic facilities.
Q: Is a new transportation facility part of this project?
A: A new transportation facility is a need/priority of the District and will be considered as part of the facility plan.