Board Takes First Step in Sale of Revenue Bonds to Renovate Buildings, Save Money

Replacing the current Casady building with a new facility for early childhood education and a middle school program would be one of several projects supported by the sale of revenue bonds.

The Des Moines School Board approved the first step in moving forward with the sale of $70 million in Sales Tax Revenue Bonds that will begin renovation of more than a dozen schools throughout the city next year. The decision will save money by getting ahead of the cost of inflation, accelerating work to several schools in the community, and supporting jobs in the construction trades.

“The sale of these revenue bonds will have a positive impact for our students and teachers, for our school facilities in neighborhoods throughout Des Moines, and for the workers who are preparing our buildings for the future,” said Tom Ahart, Superintendent of Des Moines Public Schools. “Thanks to the Board’s leadership, this will enable us to better meet our on-going work to improve school facilities, and do it in a way that makes good financial sense.”

One of the projects being planned is the replacement of the Casady school building with a brand new facility. The new building would be home to an expanded Early Childhood Education Center, providing additional preschool opportunities for neighborhood children and better access to early childhood education in the core of Des Moines. In addition, the Middle School Alternative Education Center currently housed at the McKee Education Center would be located at the new location. Wells + Associates have been hired as the architects for the new building to be located at 1801 16th Street.

The bonds would be through the existing one cent sales tax, which is collected state wide and distributed annually to school districts each spring based on their annual enrollment. This will continue through June 30, 2029.  For the current fiscal year, Des Moines Public Schools will receive approximately $27.1 million in sales tax revenue.

“In short, this allows us to complete more of our school renovation projects sooner. The result is our students and teachers benefit from being able to learn and work in schools that are better equipped for education, are more efficient and comfortable, and are safe and secure,” added Bill Good, chief operating officer for Des Moines Public Schools. 

Advantages of issuing the bonds include:

  • Allowing the district to move up projects to benefit students sooner
  • Supporting neighborhood enhancement and improvement opportunities
  • Beating inflationary costs
  • Reducing operational costs
  • Keeping our community working

Among the top priorities of the school district’s approach to school renovations and construction are safety and security; replacement of obsolete, inefficient, or worn-out equipment or systems; money and energy saving strategies; improvements to buildings which have not received major improvements; technology infrastructure upgrades; improvements to enhance research-based student achievement; and the ability to adjust to educational program changes.

Projects to be completed using these bond proceeds include: 

  • Casady Education Center new school building
  • Central Campuscontinued improvements
  • Harding Middle School – window replacement
  • Hiatt Middle School window replacement
  • Lincoln Rails Academy at Kurtz mechanical and electrical upgrades
  • Merrill Middle  Schoolclassroom addition
  • Mitchell Education Center student drop-off
  • McCombs Middle School bleacher replacement
  • McKee Education Center mechanical and electrical upgrades; parking
  • Moore – Mechanical and electrical upgrades
  • Moulton Elementary School mechanical upgrade
  • North High School Athletic wing and auditorium mechanical and electrical upgrades
  • River Woods Elementary School Addition to eliminate temporary buildings
  • Ruby Van Meter mechanical and electrical upgrades
  • Smouse Opportunity School – Mechanical and electrical upgrades parallel to the use of Smouse trust fund dollars

In addition, the funds will allow for various ADA, security and technology upgrades throughout the district, as well as provide a contingency for potential needs as a result of an elementary school boundary study.

The school district will complete project planning throughout the year, and conduct the sale of bonds starting in January 2014.