How would DMPS pay for this project? School financing in Iowa has several different funding streams, each of which has certain restrictions on how they may or may not be used. This page outlines the funding source that would be used for the new stadium, if it is approved, and also information on a couple of other funding sources that would not be used for the project.
SAVE (Secure an Advanced Vision for Education) or SWP (Statewide Penny) or LOSST (Local Option Sales and Services Tax). Over the past two decades, the sales tax dedicated to school infrastructure has gone by a few different names. This is the fund that would be used to pay for the school district’s $15 million share of stadium construction costs. Sales tax revenue is used for the construction and renovation of school buildings and facilities. By law it cannot be used to hire more teachers or other school and district staff.
DMPS has spent hundreds of millions of dollars during the past two decades to make improvements and renovations to every single school building in the district. In fact, since DMPS began receiving sales tax revenue for school infrastructure in July 2000, $631.3 million has been spent to improve school buildings and facilities throughout the district. $0 in sales tax revenue has been spent to improve existing stadiums or build new stadiums during that same time.
While a central stadium has been in the school district’s vision for SAVE for the past decade, sales tax revenue has first been used to meet a variety of educational needs. Some examples, and the amounts spent on them, include:
- Career and Technical Education: $33.5 million
- Early Childhood Education: – $16.6 million
- Performing Arts: $14.2 million
Under the district’s current 5-year plan, which runs through 2020, 97% of all sales tax revenue will be directed towards our schools and classrooms. That amounts to nearly $109 million. During the summer of 2020, more than $10 million is being spent on high school improvements alone. In the district’s next 5-year plan, which covers 2021-25, another $82.2 million will be spent on school improvements.
Use of sales tax revenue has brought a range of other positive changes to public schools in Des Moines. For example, portable classrooms have been eliminated while all building classrooms are now air-conditioned. More than $21 million has been invested to improve school safety, from creating secure entrances to all school buildings to installing hundreds of security cameras. Finally, energy efficiency has been a top priority with improvements to lighting and HVAC systems, not only making DMPS a national leader among school districts but also saving millions of dollars in utility costs.
PHYSICAL PLANT AND EQUIPMENT LEVY (PPEL) PPEL is a maintenance and equipment fund. It would not be used for stadium construction costs. Traditionally we have used the PPEL for ongoing upkeep and maintenance, like roof replacement, floor refurbishing, tuck-pointing, and more. In November, voters in the community approved increasing and extending the PPEL levy to continue the very important facility maintenance work that it pays for AND to pay for student technology moving forward. This will free up $6.5 million in our general fund, helping to offset nearly a decade of supplemental state aid increases that averaged only 1.7%. DMPS will do with PPEL exactly what was promised to the community, including reducing other levies to keep the total DMPS property tax rate flat.
GENERAL FUND. The general fund would not be used for stadium construction or operations. The general fund is the school district’s largest and most flexible fund and the only fund we may use to pay for teachers and other employees, utilities to heat and cool our schools, classroom materials, and much more. Eighty-two percent of the general fund is dedicated to staff.