Growing SL school district ponders tax increase

Monday, June 11, 2018
One of Superintendent Carl Turner's last acts before stepping down June 20 was to address the crowd at the Prime Time event for Storm Lake seniors Thursday. / Pilot photo by Elijah Decious

With death and taxes being the two certainties in life, it seems that as Storm Lake avoids one with diversified and consistent growth, it incurs another. The explosive growth of Storm Lake's elementary, middle, and high schools and a plan for a new Early Childhood building have the school district looking at a possibility of tax increases to accommodate students.

Retiring superintendent Dr. Carl Turner addressed senior citizens Thursday morning at the annual Prime Time enrichment event for performances in, Turner said.

"Yes, it's a ton of money," the superintendent said. "But what you've shown Storm Lake and the community is that you care about kids by your willingness to do that," he said, reminding taxpayers that tax rates have gone down a bit even with these improvements.

But during that seven-year renovation period, the district continued to grow, creating a now "desperate need for space."

Turner reported that the middle school is not big enough for incoming elementary students, and that the elementary school is above capacity. Mobile classrooms are currently being set up at the middle school to hold the incoming class. "We need to do something about that," he said.

Solutions are being proposed to put preschool, kindergarten, and first grade into the current early childhood facility. "This will improve the learning environment for our young learners and take two classes out of the elementary school to create space in the elementary and middle school," said Turner.

Turner said the district will be working to bring a bond proposal to voters in December toward building a new early childhood center. "We're going to be coming to you and asking you to show what you've always shown: that you care about young learners and want to make that a reality," he said. The ballot proposition would need a 60 percent majority vote to be approved. If pproved, students are projected to start using the new building in fall 2020.

Incoming superintendent Stacey Cole also spoke, and complemented Turner's proposal, saying "we make an impact on whether our youth become tax payers or tax burdens." Cole said she is excited for the future of the district and that kids' lives are changed when the community and schools work together.

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