LETTER TO THE EDITOR - Alta school bond: a staunch foe turns into a believer
It's no secret that I was a staunch opponent to the previous three bond issues based on several particulars of that plan. I believed the plan to be too expensive, larger than what was actually needed, and mainly disapproved of the way it was to be financed.
I have been a part of the latest facilities committee from the onset and can say that much work and thought has gone into this latest proposal. Many members of the committee have given much of their time and considerable effort toward the goal of being able to present a plan that will best suit the needs of the district as well as address key issues many people have.
This is not the same old plan that was voted on three times before. This is something new, with new ideas brought together by different people. I feel we've reached a good compromise between the original plan and doing nothing at all.
First of all, the proposed budget is considerably less than before. We were able to do this in large part by reconsidering the square footage needed, along with various options in construction methods and materials. The gymnasium in this proposal has a regulation size court, yet is not as large as the one allocated in the old plan. I realize this is a sensitive area for many voters, with some feeling it's not large enough while others question the need for one at all. With the moving of the 7-8 grades to the new building it is necessary to add the gym space to accommodate not only the added number of students, but also to provide needed practice space for many programs the district didn't have when the original gym was built. Some of these include: high school girls basketball, volleyball and drill team, along with junior high basketball for both girls and boys. The present gym at the elementary is used for many of these functions while at the same time serving as a lunch room for the students.
Another change is the way this bond issue will be paid for. Instead of property owners carrying most of the tax burden, this responsibility will be shared more evenly by everyone in the district through the use of an income surtax. Although under Iowa law a bond issue must be financed through property taxes, we can shift the Instructional Support Levy that the Alta district has from property tax to a surtax on the state income tax that all wage earners pay. I believe this is the most equitable way under current law in which everyone in the district will have the opportunity to pay their fair share of this addition.
It's my hope that as voters in Alta go to the polls on December 4, they do so with any questions they may have answered. If you do have questions please contact Superintendent Fred Maharry at the high school, 284-1010. I stated earlier in this letter I believe this to be a good compromise between the old plan and doing nothing, and I feel it would represent a positive change not only for the students but for the community of Alta as well.