EDITORIAL: RpS DISTRESS
The ICCSD’s proposed new Revenue Purpose Statement will give the board the ability to make more plans for the future so that the District can continue to support the needs of the growing schools. However, the West Side Story editorial board decided that they do not support it, because it does not assure or promise the public that the proposed plans will actually happen. The WSS Editorial Board asked: in spite of its ambiguity, are you in support of the proposed RPS? The WSS voted against the proposal 10-6.
“ there’s BEEN SOME DIVISIVENESS. NORTH, SOUTH EAST and WEST AND IT’S BECAUSE THERE HAS BEEN
NEEDS AND NOT ENOUGH
RESOURCES. STEVE MURLEY, SUPERINTENDENT
32 OPINION FEBURARY 2013
ith the vote for the new Revenue Purpose Statement (RPS) this Tuesday, many people seem conflicted, as well as confused about what exactly the RPS is and what it intends on doing. Others have pointed out that it seems almost too easy—as if it is too good to be true. In fact the RPS does have many positives, one example being its ability to allow the Iowa City Community School District (ICCSD) to make long-term plans, without increasing taxes. But nothing is perfect, and it is important to understand what it is before forming an opinion. Perhaps frustrating to some, the RPS does not say specifically what will be done with the money. The ICCSD has named possibilities for work to be done on the schools and the RPS gives the ICCSD the power to choose where to spend the money from taxes, instead of letting the state choose. It has its own limitations though. In 2007, Johnson county approved Iowa’s School Infrastructure Local Option (SILO) tax. Soon after, Secure an Advanced Vision for Education (SAVE) was passed, allowing for a one cent tax to be distributed to Iowa school districts. But the SILO funds can only be used for renovations, etc. As Superintendent Murley pointed when he spoke with the West Side Story staff, we are a growing district, which does come with many benefits, but also creates problems. The school district has been struggling to keep up with the growth in
student numbers, and thus, because so much money has been spent on buildings, spending on classroom resources has not been the focus. Murley explained that the District has gained 1000 students in five years, and will continue to gain at least 200 students per year for five more years. One of the benefits of having a growing district is that the ICCSD obtains more money from the state—each student is worth about $6,000—therefore the more students, the more dollars. However, because there are so many students and not enough classroom space and teachers, the school district has been building new facilities and has neglected to update older buildings in the area—for example, Longfellow is inaccessible for handicapped students and therefore needs an elevator. But putting an elevator into a building as old as Longfellow is about $800,000, and the District doesn’t have that kind of money at their fingertips at the moment. And so here is where the RPS would be able to help: The ICCSD has projected that they will collect $10 million per year from states sales tax for the next 17 years—do the math and that is $170 million. Were the RPS to pass, the school district would borrow $100 million in the form of a bond—this money could be put towards the various projects district-wide. Of course, there would be interest, but rates are low right now. Unfortunately, until spring, it will be difficult to prioritize the projects, because the district will not yet have
an analysis on the state of the buildings district-wide. But some of the main projects that proponents of the RPS say it will hopefully accomplish would be to put a new addition on Penn, add new seats on the Eastside by building new facilities, add an addition to North Central, and update the schools with air conditioning and new safety and security features. The last step would be building a new high school. While voting for the RPS does not guarantee that everything the district wants or needs will be completed, it allows the ICCSD greater flexibility in placing funds where they view them as being most needed. Finally, the vote on Feb. 5 will decide the fate of the RPS. Whether or not it passes will be up to the voters and will require the community to work together in the future no matter what. But without the RPS, it will be difficult to keep up with all of the projects needed in Iowa City because of the inability to make longterm plans.
2012-2013 Editorial Board Fiona Armstrong-Pavlik Olive Carrollhach Brenna Deerberg Ashton Duncan Zora Hurst Alyssa Mckeone Katie Mons Amelia Moser
Blake Oetting Jordan Rossen Pombie Silverman Juliann Skarda Abbie Skemp Shirley Wang Erin Weathers Frank Weirich