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Facility Planning / Bond Referendum

The Dubuque Community School District is committed to responsibly and strategically planning facility enhancements in the district that provide outstanding educational experiences for students while providing the greatest efficiency for district operations.

At its August 14 meeting, the Dubuque Community School District Board of Education approved a resolution calling for a bond referendum to appear on the ballot Tuesday, November 7, 2023.

The Board’s action comes after receiving 3,331 citizen petition signatures confirming a desire to vote on the proposed $150 million bond. If the measure receives at least 60% voter approval, the district would move forward with a series of projects aligned with its long-range facility plan.

Bond Projects

If approved, the bond would allow for the following:

  • Construction of a new, modern middle school on the Washington Middle School site: This would replace the more than 100-year-old Washington and Jefferson buildings while ensuring access to similar, high-quality facilities for ALL middle school students in the district. The district also will be able to create a feeder system through which students will attend middle school and high school within the same cohorts. View the final report from the Middle School Consolidation study.
  • Addition of air conditioning (and other HVAC mechanical improvements) to all schools in the district currently without it: AC in all schools will ensure comfortable learning spaces for ALL students and eliminate the need for schools to sometimes release early due to heat.
  • Construction of a gymnasium addition to Eisenhower Elementary School: The space constraints due to not having a separate gymnasium and lunch/multipurpose room create scheduling conflicts and limit the amount of time available in the school day to both serve meals and teach wellness. It also restricts the ability to hold special events during the day.
  • Construction of a baseball and softball complex with lights, restrooms, and concessions: New fields would address increased player safety risks that exist on some current fields due to the orientation of the sun. Additionally, we are the only district in our conference without lighted facilities and current restroom facilities are not in close proximity to the fields.
  • Land acquisition for a potential future elementary school aligned with geographic population shifts: This will allow the district to prepare to address the long-term needs of families, aligned with movement in the community’s housing population.

Why now?

The district has long prioritized strong financial management and the efficient use of resources, maximizing the use of one-cent statewide sales tax (known as SAVE) funds to complete over $200 million in facility and construction projects.

There are a number of reasons the district and board have decided to move forward with this proposal now:

  • Modern learning spaces greatly enhance a student’s overall educational experience. These projects will provide increased opportunities for ALL students, no matter where they attend school.
  • Without the bond, there will not be enough SAVE funds available to complete these projects. History tells us that construction prices will only increase, and completing these projects now will provide the best return on taxpayer dollars.
  • School funding has not kept pace with the rate of inflation or district expenses, placing pressure on the operating budget. Consolidation to two middle schools as part of the bond would provide an estimated $3.5 million in annual operating savings.
Graph showing the estimated cost of projects in the bond in 2023 at $150 million and the estimated cost in 2047 of $370 million based on 4% construction inflation.

[Click to enlarge] This graph shows the estimated cost of projects in the bond at $150 million in 2024, and the estimated cost of the same projects in 2047 at $370 million assuming 4 percent in construction inflation.

What is the tax impact of a new bond?

Due to a combination of strong financial management and enrollment changes, the inclusion of the debt service levy to fund the bond will not cause the district’s overall tax levy rate to change. The rate of $14.51 per $1,000 of assessed property value will remain in place. This represents the district’s fourth-lowest tax levy rate over the past 15 years.

Graph showing the historical district tax levy rate over the past 15 years, and then showing the rate stabilizing to a consistent $14.51 per $1,000 of assessed value moving forward.

[Click to enlarge] This graph shows the historical district tax levy rate over the past 15 years and then shows the rate stabilizing to a consistent $14.51 per $1,000 of assessed value moving forward.

Additional information

As we continue to move forward with planning over the next few months, you can stay up to date with the most recent information and answers to frequently asked questions on this page.