Alliance & Chamber Supports Cedar Falls Facilities Plan Bond Proposal
posted on Friday, September 5, 2014 in Blog
The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber supports the comprehensive facilities plan proposed by the Cedar Falls Community School District, and encourages patrons of the district to support this important program at the polls on Tuesday September 9.
Businesses and institutions of all types and sizes rely on modern infrastructure to encourage and accommodate economic growth and job creation. Perhaps as in no time in the past, the quality of educational content and experience delivered in advanced school facilities is critical to the continuing strength of our economy. Our Cedar Valley regional school facilities must lead in design, features and amenities to help our students become leaders in educational preparation and attainment.
This is true throughout the Cedar Valley economic area. We have all seen tangible and intangible benefits from the building program financed by the Local Option Sales Tax over the last decade. Now, it is essential that our educational facilities at all levels prepare students for the emerging jobs and challenges of community citizenship of tomorrow.
We point out that this is precisely the kind of investment that must be made now to ensure that our students can take advantage of the opportunities of the future economy. Our businesses are particularly sensitive to increases in property taxes given the disproportionate burden placed directly on commercial and industrial property owners and indirectly on their tenants. For us to see the advantages to these investments in school facilities, we also recognize a huge return on these investments – a return that comes in the form of more successful teacher recruitment and retention, and student preparation and achievement. We must see the plan helping to “fill the pipeline” with graduates well-prepared to assume highly productive roles in the future economy. We currently have a skills mismatch, and a shortage of talented people for new jobs that rely on “brainpower” and soft skills. Students with rounded educational experiences highlighted by hands-on experience, and achievement in sciences, technologies, mathematics, as well as the arts and the interpersonal skills are and will be needed. We must make these key investments to provide the best environments in which knowledge and skills are learned and attract the highest quality educators.
But schools facilities construction programs cannot be executed outside the parameters we expect of any public investment in infrastructure or service. Further, with many school districts and institutions within the Cedar Valley examining capital and facilities programs and financings, we must insist on consistency in evaluation of the proposals and value delivered to the taxpayers, as well as the students of our regional districts and institutions.
- We believe that the plans must take into account the most modern design and service delivery models feasible.
- The plans must be comprehensive and consider new partnerships with other educational institutions and districts, fulfilling its obligations to the patrons of the specific school district or constituency while maximizing collaboration, coordination and minimization of duplication among neighboring school districts and higher educational institutions in programs, human resources, curriculum, and services.
- The plans must have been vetted by the patrons in a manner to elicit and consider the spectrum of views on feasibility, financing mechanisms, and impact on their community, in order to establish credibility for the amounts needed to implement modern, and indeed, futuristic facilities expansion, repurposing, and replacement programs.
The Cedar Falls proposal meets these criteria and the expectations of our economy.
- The district has been very good stewards of the patrons' funds, maintaining a very low tax rate as compared to similar sized districts
- The district has not asked their patrons to approve a bond issue for facilities in nearly 40 years.
- The plan replaces facilities for rational reasons: the new facilities replace obsolete designs that can no longer be modified and upgraded to meet modern standards; landlocked facilities are moved to larger sites where future needs can be anticipated and addressed; and facilities are located where population growth is occurring and anticipated in the district.
- The plan was vetted by District leadership internally and with significant community involvement, review and comment.
We encourage businesses, parents and all patrons of the Cedar Falls Community School district to support the bond referendum on Tuesday September 9.
Adopted by the Board of Directors
Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber
Steve Dust, CEcD