By Chris Umscheid
North Liberty Leader
OXFORD– If voters in the Clear Creek Amana (CCA) school district approve a $48 million bond in February, Tiffin will be the site of a new elementary school.
CCA superintendent Tim Kuehl asked the school board to approve a resolution at their monthly meeting Wednesday, Nov. 13, approving the acquisition of land for the new school. The deal involves two parcels of land in the Bigelow Subdivision, located on the NE corner of the intersection of U.S. Highway 6 and Jasper Avenue on the east side of Tiffin.
Lot 1 includes 34.91 acres and lot 2 is 18.39 acres in size. Under the agreement, which is contingent upon passage of the bond, the district would pay $1,383,250 for lot 1 and the seller would donate lot 2. Language in the resolution states the district could condemn the land under eminent domain laws if voluntary means fail. If the bond fails to pass, the deal is considered null and void.
The board unanimously approved the resolution on a voice vote. “That’s a big step we just took,” board president Steve Swenka said.
The administrative team has been looking ahead to the next school year (2014-2015) anticipating continued enrollment growth and dwindling space available for the students. Kuehl told the board it is most likely the Clear Creek Elementary fifth graders will have to go to Amana Elementary.
“There’s not space here,” Kuehl said, noting that rooms and areas in the building not designed as classroom space were being pressed into service as such. “We anticipate having another section (of students) here next year,” he said, “and there’s really no way to make it fit within this building.”
CCE principal Dan Dvorak stated this would involve three sections with 61 students total affected.
“Brenda (Parker, principal of North Bend Elementary in North Liberty) is confident, even if they go up a section, they can make things fit for a year,” Kuehl said. The board approved and accepted the close out documents for the recently completed, and in-use six-classroom pod at the school, which was built in 2008. “It’ll mean going back (to a make-shift classroom) into the library, but she thinks she can do it for a year.”
Looking farther down the road, Kuehl said if the bond issue does not pass, “The 2015-2016 year is…” he paused and Swenka interjected. “When things will get interesting?” Swenka asked.
“Interesting is not the word,” the superintendent replied. Kuehl said it would mean a combination of additional transportation of students, which he called a waste of general fund money, and the probable use of more portable classrooms at a rough estimate of $150,000 per unit. He acknowledged the reluctance of the board to go back to portables, which were utilized prior to the construction of North Bend and the new high school.
Board member Eileen Schmidt asked if North Bend fifth graders were to move to Amana, if that would max that facility out as well. Amana principal Ben Macumber, Shive-Hattery’s Keith Johnk and Kuehl answered in unison.
“Yes,” they said. Kuehl said North Bend and CCE would also be full as well, and over-capacity.
“I don’t think people know that,” Schmidt said. “They don’t realize that if this bond does not pass, it just doesn’t affect next year and Oxford Elementary. It’s everywhere.”
“We’ll be over-capacity next year,” middle school principal Brad Fox said, “and significantly over-capacity the following year.”
“Basically, if it doesn’t pass, we’re bussing and at portables?,” board vice-president Bob Broghammer asked.
“We’ll have no options,” Kuehl replied.