Tipton has always derived great pride from its schools. Our nearly 100-year-old high school is a testament to our commitment to investing in the spaces where we educate our next generation.
This last year, more than ever, it has been apparent what a critical role our schools play in our communities. While quality learning can and has taken place at home and online, schools are about community, relationships, routines, and traditions.
The high school, our district’s oldest building, does not meet current needs of our students and educators. While it is structurally sound, the building’s spaces are dated, and in some cases either undersized or used in ways not originally intended. After investing in our middle school, it is time for the district to invest in the high school to better serve future generations of Tipton Tigers.
tipton.k12.ia.us/how-we-got-here for current builidng photos
HOW WILL THIS IMPACT EDUCATION IN TIPTON?
Teaching and learning have evolved dramatically in the 100 years since our high school was built. Technology is both shaping and supporting a rapidly transforming educational landscape. Like the higher education campuses and workplaces we are preparing our students for, today’s schools are designed to foster community, creativity, and collaboration.
While we cannot predict future changes to curriculum and technology that will inevitably happen, by renovating and adding onto the high school, we will have a facility that is designed to avoid obsolescence with flexible, open spaces that are clearly organized, accessible, and easily adaptable. We will also be providing our students with learning environments on par with their peers in other area districts, arming them with opportunities that will prepare them for their next chapter.
WHAT WILL I BE VOTING SEPTEMBER 14, 2021?
On September 14, 2021, a date predetermined by state law, Tipton Community Schools will hold a special election. The two questions on the ballot will work together. The first question describes, in general terms, the type of improvements being proposed and the estimated amount needed to bond in order to complete the project. The second question asks for the ability to levy to fund the project, specifically the ability to levy more than $2.70 per $1,000 of assessed value. Sixty-percent of voters must approve of both questions for the bond to pass.
Shall the Board of Directors of the Tipton Community School District in the County of Cedar, State of Iowa, be authorized to contract indebtedness and issue General Obligation Bonds in an amount not to exceed $18,900,000 to provide funds to remodel, repair, improve, furnish, equip, and construct additions to the High School building and improve the site?
Shall the Board of Directors of the Tipton Community School District in the County of Cedar, 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?
Visit: tipton.k12.ia.us/bond-vote for more more details
HOW WILL THIS AFFECT MY PROPERTY TAXES?
If approved, based on the current tax rate, taxes would increase by $2.72 per thousand dollars of taxable valuation. Taxable value is not the same as market value. It is also not the same as the assessed value. The taxable value is the value determined by the auditor after application of state-ordered “rollback” percentages for the various classes of property and is the value indicated on the tax statement.
Tipton’s tax levy has routinely ranked well below peer districts. By being fiscally responsible, the district has been able to keep Tipton’s levy rate low compared to peer districts. After the bond passes, Tipton’s rate will still be lower than many comparable districts. For example, a home with an assessed value of $100,000, after rollbacks and homestead credits have been applied, has a taxable value of $51,559. A $2.72 increase per $1,000 would result in an annual change of $140.59, or the equivalent of $11.72 per month.
The average assessed value of Cedar County farmland in 2021 is approximately 1,680. After rollback, the average taxable value is $1,412 resulting in an annual increase of approximately $3.85 per acre annually.
tipton.k12.ia.us/bond-pay for more details
The school board approved the bond language and called for a vote at their April 12, 2021, meeting. If the bond is successful on September 14, 2021, the design would begin immediately with the goal of bidding the project in the 2022. If the bond is not successful, by state law the district will need to wait six months until it is able to call another election. The next vote could be April 2022
WHAT WILL THE RENOVATIONS AND ADDITIONS LOOK LIKE?
We know everyone is eager to know is what our facilities will look like, and we don’t expect the community to support a project without knowing what it will look like. That’s why, OPN Architects has developed a design concept intended to give the community an idea of what the addition could look like and how we will potentially address the renovations. But we want to stress that these are just initial ideas. There’s a very real possibility that the final design won’t look anything like the picture. That’s ok because the final design will include a lot more feedback from staff and students. Schools reflect a community’s personality, pride, and philosophies.
After the bond passes and before the design of Tipton’s new spaces, OPN Architects will spend time getting to know the community’s collective vision for how the high school will be used and what each space should provide. Details like where the concession stand will be located or what color the carpet will be will be determined at this point in the process. OPN Architects will help Tipton staff and administration analyze, assess, and synthesize data to create a blend of physical, digital, and immersive environments that enable staff to teach and mentor the next generation of innovators, creators, collaborators, and leaders.
tipton.k12.ia.us/bond-plan for floor plan and concept photos
WHY CAN'T WE PAY FOR THESE IMPORVEMENTS WITHOUT A BOND VOTE?
School district funding is a complicated issue. While generally it is considered wise to save money for a rainy day – or in this case a large expense – school districts are not legally allowed to stockpile large savings accounts. As a protection for taxpayers, they are encouraged by law to operate in such a way that they spend all that they bring in each year. This general fund is used to pay salaries and buy supplies. Think of it like a checking account for day-to-day expenses.
Other funding streams include PPEL, which can be used to improve ground and buildings; and the 1-cent sales tax (SAVE), which can be used for capital projects. As we look at ways to finance our facilities project, we try to use funding sources – SAVE and PPEL -- that have the least amount of impact on property taxes for our community. It is possible to use these funds for large-scale building projects. However, doing so depletes those funds and doesn’t allow for a cushion should the district need to fix a broken window or replace a piece of equipment, for example. That is why large-scale projects tend to be funded by voter-approved general obligation bond.
WHAT HAPPENS IF THE PROJECTS GO OVER BUDGET?
The district is not allowed to bond beyond the amount approved by voters. Of course, anyone who has ever taken on a construction project no matter how big or small knows that there are always unforeseen costs. In the architecture and construction industry, these are called contingencies. A contingency budget is built into the overall budget. Typically, at this point in the project, this is around 20% of the total project budget. This means that our budget is built to be flexible to accommodate unforeseen situations. Throughout the design process, there will be regular cost estimates, each with more detail that help the design team and district stay aligned with the budget.
HOW WILL THIS PROJECT IMPROVE SAFETY AND SECURITY?
The addition to the building’s northwest corner will create a new secure and welcoming new main entry for the high school. Updates to the historic building will include a secure entry and higher visibility for the district office. Site improvements will include an updated bus drop off loop that will help alleviate traffic concerns between cars and buses and improve the safety of that traffic flow.
HOW WILL PARKING BE AFFECTED?
The plan alleviates parking challenges at the high school by including additional parking space that will better support student, staff, and activity needs. Our civil engineer has worked with all of the appropriate authorities with jurisdiction to ensure our plans to adjust traffic flows are approved.
HOW DO SCHOOL FACILITIES AFFECT ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT?
Schools are integrally tied to a community’s economic vitality. According to a recent study by real estate search engine Trulia and Harris Interactive, the majority (57 percent) of parents with children under 18 would pay above listing price to live in the neighborhood with ideal schools. As districts around Tipton improve their facilities and the community continues to look to the future, our school facilities will play a critical role in our community’s growth.
WHY AREN'T WE BUILDING A NEW HIGH SCHOOL?
To be frank, we can’t afford a new high school. To replace the square footage of the existing high school, would cost upwards of $50 million. Additionally, while nearing 100 years old, the existing high school is structurally sound and has been well-maintained. The architects and engineers did not find anything in their assessment that would lead them to recommend that the district could not continue to operate in the building. Once presented with the findings of the assessment and the cost estimates of building new, the facility committee resolved to find a solution that focused on these specific deficiencies at the high school:
Improved student climate and natural light
Commons and Collaboration Spaces
Improved ADA, Lighting, HVAC
WHY DO WE NEED A NEW COMPETITION GYM AT THE HIGH SCHOOL?
An additional gym will allow for high school sporting events to be held at the high school instead of at the middle school. Adding a gym and locker rooms to the district will also alleviate current scheduling issues at both the middle and high school as well as for recreation teams.
Competition gyms are also educational spaces during the day. This last year taught us the value of flexible, large spaces that can be used for a variety of uses.
WHAT NEW EDUCATION/CLASSROOOM SPACES WILL THERE BE AND HOW WILL THEY BE USED?
The addition to the building’s northwest corner includes 40,000 square feet (including 15,000 sf reclaimed by the demolition of the existing cafeteria and library) of classroom and collaboration areas, including the new library and commons, that will create much needed areas for students to work together on small group projects as well as create gathering areas for social interactions. Overall this is a net increase of 25,000 square feet.
With the addition of a new gym, the 1925 gym will be converted to a band room with practice and storage space allowing the existing band room to be converted to classroom space. Moving the library to the new addition also allows for the conversion of the existing library into additional classroom space.
Renovations to the existing high school also include two new seminar classrooms and study spaces adjacent to the auditorium.
tipton.k12.ia.us/bond-plan for floor plan
IF THE ENROLLMENT IS STEADY, WHY DO WE NEED TO DO ANYTHING?
Often districts embark on facility projects in response to capacity issues. This is not the case at Tipton. Our enrollment has held steady in recent history. Our plan reallocates spaces and creates new space to support newer modes of teaching that require collaboration areas.
Additionally, while our high school is in sound shape structurally, general updates to the space will create a cohesive learning environment. The building will also be more comfortable after repairs to the windows and improvements to the heating and cooling systems.
WHAT ARE THE DISTRICT'S PLANS FOR DEALING WITH OTHER FACILITIES NEEDS (i.e. basketball/softball field)?
The district will continue to make improvement to outdoor activity spaces as needed and as funding allows. This project focuses on learning environments at the high school. Understanding that participation and involvement in activities is a critical factor to student success, Tipton is committed to the maintenance of all the outdoor activity spaces.
WON'T THE GYM NOISE INTERFERE WITH THE CLASSROOMS IN THE AREA?
The commons will provide a buffer between the gym and between sound sensitive areas of the building. The commons is also a multi-purpose space. During the school day, the commons can serve as a cafeteria, gathering, and meeting. During evening activities, it can serve as a gathering and pre-function space.
WHAT HAPPENS WITH ALL THE OLD HIGH SCHOOL OFFICE AREAS?
District administration will remain in the existing high school office area. The spaces vacated by the high school administration will be renovated for much needed teacher support and collaboration spaces.
tipton.k12.ia.us/bond-plan for floor plan.
HOW DOES THE NEW LUNCHROOM COMPARE IN SIZE TO THE EXISTING ONE?
The new commons/lunchroom will provide a modern and student-friendly environment with enough space for the current high school population as well as future growth. Because a cafeteria’s capacity can be a limiting factor in overall building capacity, the design team and district administration will ensure that the new commons has enough space to support growth at the high school and district.