Special election set for Tuesday

The Sioux Center School District has proposed building a new high school facility as part of its four-facility solution for its growing enrollment. The new facility would have a more open concept and room for students.


SIOUX CENTER—A bond vote is set for Tuesday, Feb. 5, regarding a proposed new high school building for the Sioux Center School District.

Voting, open 7 a.m.-8 p.m., will be at the Terrace View Event Center.

The total cost of a proposed new two-story Sioux Center High School is estimated to be $39.6 million. The school district plans to cover 37 percent or $14.7 million of that cost with 63 percent or $24.9 million needed to be bond, which requires the community vote.

A general obligation bond is a method of long-term financing that a school district may use to borrow money for construction projects. This spreads the cost of the project over a number of years, similar to a home mortgage.

If the bond passes, the debt service school tax levy increases by a maximum of $0.37 per $1,000 of taxable valuation. For a $200,000 home, the average increase in property taxes would be $40.62 a year or about $3.38 a month. The increase would be about $0.52 per acre for primary agriculture real estate.

There is a website — www.bondissue.org/warriors — for residents to learn more about the bond and calculate the bond impact on their property taxes based on the exact value of their home or farm acres.

“This bond means a strong and sustainable future for Sioux Center,” said Monica Sedelmeier, co-chair of the bond vote committee. “It amplifies the growth we continue to see and affords us the space to continue to expand in all four school buildings. This bond isn’t just a solution for our high school, but for all students from TK through high school and ultimately for our community as we continue to assess their needs and the potential multi-uses of our facilities.”

Proposed site location

The total cost of the proposed new two-story high school facility is estimated to be $39.6 million, with $24.9 million needed to be paid for through a bond. The Sioux Center School District Board of Education set Tuesday, Feb. 5, as the date for the bond vote.


Enrollment growth

In-seat enrollment at school district jumped by 29 students for the 2018-19 academic year, bringing its total to 1,390 students.

“The student body is growing at a rate that would add 500 students throughout the next decade,” said district superintendent Gary McEldowney.

The Sioux Center district is comparable in size to 17 other districts in the state of Iowa, only five of which are growing. Those five schools have almost double the square footage for their students already compared to the Sioux Center district.

“Ideas have gone round and round — from a new middle school to a new high school, to adding on to our middle school and high school. In reviewing our future needs, building a new high school really seems like the best fit for us as a growing district,” McEldowney said.

More classroom space needed

Sixth-graders Emma Sandbulte and Cale White work on an art project with their class in the Sioux Center Middle School commons as there are no classroom spaces available for art. 


Four-facility solution

The school district has proposed building a new high school facility as part of its four-facility solution for its growing enrollment.

“Building a new high school would alleviate capacity issues in all three current facilities,” McEldowney said, noting the proposal includes moving sixth to eighth grades into the current high school, third to fifth grades to the current middle school and keeping kindergarten to second grades at Kinsey Elementary if the new structure were to be built. “The new facility would also allow for future enrollment growth, increase the amount of overall instructional space and maximize instructional resources.”

McEldowney said the school district is eager to find ways to partner with the city of Sioux Center and Dordt College to share facilities at the proposed high school. Discussions include having three soccer fields north of the building and two practice football fields to the west of the school.

The city is considering creating a parklike setting with a pond in the northeast corner of the property, but details are not yet finalized.

An auditorium for performing arts is not including in the building project, but the building has been designed so that it could be added on in the future if the community wants it.

“Not including such items helps reduce the project cost and may allow for a joint-use project in the future,” McEldowney said.

The city has agreed to sell the school district approximately 33 acres of land north of the existing Sioux County Fairgrounds, which is located near the athletic fields and other school facilities, for building the proposed high school.

Two-year project

If the vote passes, McEldowney said dirt work could begin in the spring and would be a two-year project. The 2020-21 school year would be the first year students could use the new facility as well as restructure the grades for the three existing buildings.

The Sioux Center School District’s last bond vote was in September 2008 for $8.485 million, which went toward updates to the high school and Kinsey Elementary.

“I encourage everyone to go out and vote yes on Feb. 5,” Sedelmeier said. “This is a chance for our community to continue to move forward and showcase the great things that are happening.”