When voters go to the polls September 13 for local school district elections, they will have the opportunity to vote on a bond issue extension for Kirkwood Community College. The 20-cent/$1,000 valuation bond issue would replace the one voters approved in 2005. This is not an additional tax; and tax rates will not change. It will cost the owner of a $100,000 home about 38-cents per week.
If the bond issue passes, the college plans to used the $46.5 million generated over 15 years to build three new regional education centers in Johnson, Linn and Washington counties. The center in Johnson County is planned at the University of Iowa’s Oakdale campus. The concept, a university, community college and local K-12 schools working together at one site, is the first of its kind in the nation.
Regional education centers provide a partnership with Kirkwood Community College and local K-12 school districts. By providing courses and labs K-12 schools can’t afford individually, the college pools its resources with these districts to create the new space and instruction together. High school students are able to take free classes in computer technology, engineering, construction, health care, auto trades, and arts and sciences.
“We created the Jones Regional Education Center in Monticello as our first regional education center,” said Kirkwood President Mick Starcevich. “We’ve had such great success there, that we want to continue building these centers to better-serve the school districts in our community.”
The new campuses will provide continuing education classes and college-credit classes currently available at all of Kirkwood’s county centers. The proposed regional centers would allow more high school students to get a leg up on their college careers by taking more dual-credit courses, earning high school and college credit at the same time.
“3,615 area students and their parents saved more than $2.4 million in tuition costs last year by taking our dual-credit classes,” added Starcevich. “And that’s at our low Kirkwood tuition. They’re saving even more if they transfer those credits to a four-year college or university.”
In addition to creating three new regional education centers if the bond issue passes, the college will use money to renovate Kirkwood’s first building, the 210,000 square foot Linn Hall, on its main campus in Cedar Rapids.
“While it is a beloved monument to everything Kirkwood has become, it must be brought up to 21st century standards,” said Starcevich.
The current plumbing, electrical, heating, cooling, ventilation and telecommunication systems are outdated and becoming nearly impossible to maintain. Updates will be high efficiency, energy saving and environmentally conscious. The college will save $200,000 a year in energy costs with a new geothermal system alone.
The 2005 bond issue that passed allowed Kirkwood to build the Healthcare Simulation Center, the Horticulture and Floral Careers building, new Hospitality laboratories, and upgrades and additions to Cedar, Johnson and Jones halls.