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People's Forum: Views on IKM-Manning September 8 bond referendum

People's Forum: Views on IKM-Manning September 8 bond referendum

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Against tax increase

I’m writing this letter because of my concern about the $19.2 million bond referendum the school board has proposed. September 8 is when the vote is to take place. I am against passage of this referendum for several reasons, the biggest being raising my taxes. I’ve seen on handouts that have been passed out that it will only be a slight increase in taxes. Any increase is an increase. I’ve also seen figures on the expected increases. Information I received from the assessor’s office show larger increases in taxes than that on flyers at community meetings.

My taxes have increased four times from what they were when I started buying my farm. These increases happened without voluntarily voting an increase.

It has been stated that increases are only a small amount per month. Take that small amount times 12, then take that amount times 20. That’s how much it will cost.

Will the district even be here in 20 years? With the current pandemic we are in, high unemployment, businesses failing, the poor farm economy, and the unknown future, taxing that will need to be done to cover revenue shortfalls, is this the time to increase taxes more? I would say not. Besides, with online learning, who knows what education will look like in the future. Will we even need all this building space? With slow to little enrollment increase to even enrollment decline, is more building space needed?

Other talk has been about the needed building improvements. We were told a few years ago that building changes needed to be made and that the Irwin and Manning buildings were in excellent condition and it would take over $1 million to fix the Manilla building. How could these buildings have deteriorated so fast? We were also told that closing the Manilla building would save $400,000 a year. In the time that has passed, that’s over $2 million. Those should be dollars that could be spent to do needed repairs. Another thing to think about is if this passes, the Irwin building will need to be disposed of. The district may not be as lucky at getting rid of that building as they were the Manilla building - $300,000 lucky., Finally, is this really needed or just wanted by a few. I ask that you vote no on September 8.

Allen Olson, Manilla

IKM-Manning - what if the no vote prevails?

The current buildings need millions of dollars of repairs. How can that be? The buildings were built in the 1950s and ‘60s. Since the school districts combined, there has been no bond money to repair or update the facilities. As a result, the 60-plus year old buildings need help. Out of 341 school districts, IKM-Manning has the 20th lowest property tax rate.

None of us want to pay more for groceries, clothes and utilities and yet we do. Costs go up. Products become obsolete. How many of us drive a 1950s or ‘60s era vehicle as our primary vehicle? How many of us live in a 1950s or ‘60s era house with no improvements? If the bond passes, IKM-Manning’s tax rate will still be in the bottom 100 of all Iowa districts.

Do we want an “OK” environment for our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren or do we want to give them an environment in which they learn to excel….for a lifetime? Do we want them to return as adults to our communities? They won’t return to raise their children if school facilities are dilapidated.

Several have mentioned the option of dissolving the school district. If so, our students will be dispersed into the Audubon, Denison, Harlan and Carroll school districts. They may or may not attend with their current friends. They will disappear into a larger student body. They will be more anonymous. Achieving a playing position in sports, band, choir, etc. will be much more difficult. Our students will have long bus rides. As parents, attending their school events and teacher conferences will be more difficult. Our voices as parents and taxpayers will be muted in the larger districts. Our students may become lost in the shuffle…

Taxes will be higher….in some cases, significantly higher. Denison School District is 40 percent higher, $4 per $1,000 higher than IKM-Manning. How many of those school districts will need to upgrade or build additional classrooms if they absorb a couple hundred IKM-Manning students? Probably all …which means their taxes will be even higher than their current rates.

I recommend a “Yes” vote to keep our students close to home and to avoid the higher tax rates in the surrounding school districts.

Ron Reischl, former IKM-Manning School Board Member

Time to invest in future of IKM-Manning

As we’ve traveled Western Iowa to watch the Wolves participate in sports and fine arts, we have been impressed with the school buildings we’ve seen. Of all the schools we’ve been to, there was only one other that only had one gym where varsity sports were played. We also recognize the Wolves parents are some of the proudest parents out there. But that Wolf pride doesn’t reflect in our school facilities.

The IKM-Manning school buildings need help. The current facilities are getting worse by the day. It’s not just the areas that you can see that are outdated - it’s major systems like plumbing and heating/cooling. Experience has shown that quick-fixes on 50+-year-old buildings are short-term solutions that, in the long run, are much more expensive.

Having been previous attendees at the school on 2nd Street, then the one that’s now the Rec Center, and the “new” one in 1972, I can’t help but wonder - what would have happened if those voters would have voted no? Would IKM-Manning even exist today? We need to be thankful that the generations before us invested in moving the schools forward. They didn’t stick their heads in the sand. And now it’s our turn to invest to make sure that there are future generations of Wolves graduates. It’s time to have our school buildings reflect the pride that we have in our Wolves students. And that’s why we’re going to vote yes on September 8. We urge you to do the same.

John and Jackie Ohde, Manning

Our turn to step up

II believe the upcoming IKM-Manning School bond vote on September 8 should be a vote yes. $19 million is a big number, but when you do the math for your individual situation, it becomes much smaller amount for the large impact this will have on our school district.

Over a year ago I volunteered to be a member of the IKM-Manning School Facility Planning Committee. These were all public meetings and everyone was encouraged to participate. We discussed the options for repairs and/or new construction for our buildings. After many months of discussions and feasibility studies, for both buildings, the committee recommended to the school board who made the decision to build an addition on to the Manning school building and remodel the older parts of this building.

With the interest rates on bonds going down right now, our school can get about $3 million more to go towards repairs that would have instead gone to interest payments.

One of the benefits I see from moving all ages to one building is being able to help provide all elementary kids the option to learn at their own learning levels instead of age-based learning, particularly with math and reading. Another benefit I see is that there will be less travel time. There will be direct bus routes from homes to school, avoiding the shuttle buses and eliminating the extra time, during the day, that staff spend on the roads between schools.

The updates to the old high school areas will also continue to move towards more Career Ready Classes, such as the many health occupations, culinary, welding, truck drivers, automotive tech, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, computer programing and engineering technology. There is heavy demand for these types of jobs in Western Iowa. If we can educate students here and help keep them in our area, we will be able to continue to have our school district thrive.

Our parents, grandparents and great grandparents paid taxes to build school buildings. I imagine everyone was not happy about that but they still built the schools for us. They started with township schools and moved to town schools and for decades schools have been merging. Now is the time to keep moving forward and work together to keep our school district intact and not lose it to county seats. Let’s use low interest to get this done. Inflation will always be there. Prices will never get lower than they are today.

I have been told by several people in the past few weeks they were sure I was against this bond; however I am asking you to vote yes. Now is the time to save our school district. It’s our turn to step up. We can’t just talk about this. We need you to vote yes on September 8.

If you have questions or would like to discuss this further please call me at 712-269-8509.

Denny Kasparbauer, former IKM-Manning School Board Member

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