(September 20, 2010) At their September 20 meeting, the Ankeny Board of Education unanimously approved revisions to the district facility plan that included using the statewide one-cent sales tax to build the district’s ninth elementary. Lower than anticipated bids for Ankeny Centennial High School (ACHS) and a conservative approach to estimating the cost of building projects resulted in the ability to complete several other projects without the use of property tax.
“We are thrilled we can move forward without the need for a property tax bond,” stated Dr. Matthew Wendt, Superintendent of Schools. “With this approval by the Board, we will immediately begin the construction process for Prairie Trail Elementary. This is great news not only for parents and students, but for the community as well.”
Completion of the elementary school will put Board-approved boundary lines in place and help alleviate enrollment pressure in elementary schools. New boundary lines will also set in place the complete secondary feeder system for the school district.
“This puts construction of Prairie Trail Elementary School back on its original timeline to open in the fall of 2012,” stated Dr. Wendt. “Now that capacity relief is on the way at the secondary school level, I’m pleased we will also be able to provide relief at the elementary level beginning August of 2012.”
Along with Prairie Trail Elementary, Dr. Wendt recommended other projects be completed with sales tax. He notes his recommendation aligns with the philosophy to use sales tax to complete as many projects in the board’s approved facility plan as possible, keeping those costs away from property tax. The Board also approved using sales tax for the following:
- Completion of the final renovation and expansion phases of East Elementary School
- Renovations to the current high school to be transitioned into an 8-9 facility
- Artificial turf at both ACHS and AHS resulting in decreased long-term maintenance
- Competition baseball, softball fields and tennis courts to serve two high schools
- Payment to the City of Ankeny for State Street improvements
“The district now has additional direction from the Board regarding the next steps of the facility plan,’” stated new Board President Leslie Petersen. “Although several projects will begin immediately, the list of projects approved span a six-year time period. Future Boards will be able to revisit the plan at certain touch-points to determine if it is still the most fiscally responsible plan to taxpayers. Relieving pressure on property taxes is a top priority of this board, and pursuing this group of projects without the use of property tax goes a long way toward both meeting students’ needs and helping our community.”
In August, the Iowa Department of Revenue confirmed the amount of sales tax the district is estimated to receive. A competitive bidding environment this summer contributed to lower than estimated construction costs for the Ankeny Centennial High School. Once an approved contract for construction of Ankeny Centennial High School (ACHS) was in place, the district began to evaluate the amount of remaining sales tax available, reported Dr. Craig Hansel, Chief Financial Officer for the district.
“We take a conservative approach to estimating the costs for construction projects and the amount of sales tax and other revenues that will be available for projects,” states Dr. Hansel. “Now that we have a firm cost for ACHS, the remaining sales tax revenue stream through Fiscal Year 2016 should support these projects.”