Students First – Five Year Report

Investing in the Education of our Students

Iowa is known across the nation and around the globe for its commitment to excellence in education. For many years our students and teachers have been leaders when it comes to academic excellence. More recently, we are also leaders when it comes to excellent school facilities in which our students learn and our teachers teach.

In 1999, Polk County voters approved the “Schools First” campaign, a local option sales tax that made possible significant and long overdue improvements to school facilities in Des Moines Public Schools and other school districts throughout the county. The approval made positive changes for students, teachers, parents and neighborhoods across the entire community, investing more than $240 million in neighborhoods throughout the community.

Then in 2008, the Iowa General Assembly turned the local option sales tax into a statewide sales tax, providing each school district in Iowa with an on-going revenue stream to meet their school building and infrastructure needs. The very next year, voters in Des Moines gave their approval to the district’s plan for using these funds – called “Students First” – which includes improving safety and security; replacing obsolete, inefficient, or worn-out equipment or systems; improving buildings that have not already received major improvements; installing air conditioning; and upgrading technology.

As DMPS enters the fifth year of “Students First,” this special online report has been prepared to provide a closer look at what this has meant for our community, the priorities set in improving our school, how public dollars are being wisely spent, and how it is all making for excellent schools in which our students learn and our teachers teach.

For more information about “Students First” – what has been accomplished over the past five years and our priorities for the future – please click on the menu items to the right.