July 19, 2024

School board approves funding

Creston Community School District board Tuesday unanimously approved spending up to $19 million to remodel the elementary and middle school building. The work will create a centralized campus including pre-kindergarten through fifth grade.

There were no formal objections to the proposal during a public hearing held before the vote.

Funds used will go against the district’s future school infrastructure sales, services and use tax revenue bonds.

“There is no impact on taxes,” said Superintendent Deron Stender. “We are borrowing against future revenues.”

The work will end the use of the Early Childhood Center on North Elm Street. The building has showed its age and use over the years highlighted by water drainage underneath the building which has caused problems.

“People may see nothing wrong,” said board member Galen Zumbach about the building.

Stender said estimates to repair the building are at $14 million and added having those students and staff relocated to the elementary/middle school building will improve efficiency and not require the transportation of students and staff between the ECC to the elementary/middle school building. Students are bused to the elementary/middle school before being sent to the ECC.

“We will do the best we can with the finances we have,” Zumbach said. “This is a good plan.”

Stender speculated work will begin in summer 2024 and the building to be ready when the 2025-2026 school year begins.

The district had considered another general obligation bond for improvements at the high school including a second, competitive gymnasium. But speculated construction costs because of inflation forced the board to end the idea.

Last month, Stender said, “The recent proposal for a General Obligation Bond was for $22.5 million dollars and included renovations and additions at the high school. The proposed projects were estimated to exceed General Obligation Bond revenue by $9.5 million dollars. We anticipated the size of the proposed projects could be scaled back to align project costs with GOB revenue. After further review of the projects and anticipated costs, it is not possible to reduce the proposed projects to align with the proposed $22.5 million dollar General Obligation Bond. At this time, we will pause the proposed General Obligation Bond process which means the district will not seek voter approval this November. It is important that project plans are supported by financial resources. In this case, the resources from the proposed GOB are not enough.”

John Van Nostrand

JOHN VAN NOSTRAND

An Iowa native, John's newspaper career has mostly been in small-town weeklies from the Rocky Mountains to the Mississippi River. He first stint in Creston was from 2002 to 2005.