We hope voters will take the time today to cast a ballot in favor of the Iowa Central Community College bond issue.
It’s never a comfortable experience to tax yourself, but the fact is that the state simply doesn’t do an adequate job of supporting its community college system, and raising tuition any higher would begin to put schools like ICCC at a disadvantage compared to those in surrounding states.
Iowa Central doesn’t ask for a lot from its communities, and it is more important to them than any of us take the time to appreciate.
No, it doesn’t have a glorious campanile and will never put a football team in the Rose Bowl, but it is a practical, affordable, boots-on-the-ground source of education. What they lack in pomp and circumstance, community colleges make up in agility and responsiveness. They are the first to recognize needs and shortages in the workforce, and are able to quickly implement a targeted curriculum. For one example, Iowa Central is the primary reason that we didn’t do through a crippling shortage of skilled nursing care people like most of the country did.
ICCC teaches immigrants the English skills they need to pursue a career, it brushes up non-traditional students in new skills, it turns out the welders and technicians and all the other people into good, solid jobs that we don’t often think about, but rely upon.
Many students in Storm Lake have benefitted from being able to attend charter school programs to earn a high school diploma and college associate degree at the same time, at no cost, thanks to Iowa Central. Many of these students represent the first person in their family to be able to access college education.
Iowa Central has been an option to take those core classes under lower tuition before advancing on to a four-year school. It has also been a place to start out for those who are undecided, or academic late bloomers. For those with a family to attend to, it is an option to pursue learning at their own pace.
There are one heck of a lot of people who would never have received advanced education if it were not for an option like Iowa Central and the other community college systems in the state.
Storm Lake has unquestionably benefitted from hosting an ICCC campus. To be honest, we would have preferred to see some expansion of the campus here under this proposed bond issue. We would also prefer to see the proposed high school career academy for northwest Iowa being located in Storm Lake. While Laurens or Albert City may be slightly more centralized, Storm Lake is the hub of this region, and we have the educators and facilities here to grow such a program to its full potential.
Storm Lake is not empty-handed in the bond proposal, though. Some security improvements which are, unfortunately, needed, will occur here and the other ICCC campuses. A new roof, windows and electrical wiring will be done. Not very sexy, but practical and necessary projects for aging structures.
I’m not going to have you all that mumbo-jumbo about how a tax is only the price of a loaf of bread a month - it’s money, in an uncertain time. The key isn’t how much it costs, but whether it is a worthy investment.
As taxes go, this one is not burdensome, it has a definitive sunset, and will be somewhat offset with the retirement of a previous ICCC bond issue from years ago.