Iowa Central board supports regional academy

The Iowa Central Community College board of directors is “all in,” in writing, for the Greene County School District’s bond issue project.

Election day for the $21.48 million bond issue referendum is Tuesday, April 3. Absentee voting is now underway.

The Iowa Central board on Jan. 9 voted 8-0 in favor of a resolution in support of the bond referendum. The board’s resolution “authorizes the President of Iowa Central Community College to add an Iowa Central Community College Career Academy in joint location with Greene County High School located in Jefferson, Iowa.”

The proposed career academy, if voters approve the improvement project, will be built adjacent to the proposed new high school on the south side of Highway 30 just west of Spalding American Athletic. The academy will be owned by the Greene County School District and leased to Iowa Central. The community college will equip, staff and maintain the academy.

The career academy, to quote the Iowa Central board resolution, will work “in cooperation with business, industry, school districts of Greene County, and other school districts to create college career track opportunities for high school students to enroll in the Career Academy; . . .”

The resolution also stated that the bond referendum “is in the area’s best interest” for other reasons, including to “provide additional credit and non-credit course work for adult learners during the evening hours;” and “provide local business and industry with training opportunities in this regional center.”

Seven of the Greene County School District’s neighboring districts have approved their support of the regional center, and would sign up for a certain number of “seats” in the regional center in order to assure Iowa Central of sufficient enrollment at the facility.

The regional center will offer course “strands” designed to encourage students after graduation either to enter careers associated with employment offered by area employers or to seek further career education, for instance at Iowa Central.

High school juniors and seniors will take the regional academy’s courses, which will provide dual high school and college credit for the students. The college credits can reduce students’ college costs by thousands of dollars.

The Pillar Technology software development firm, which has a facility in Des Moines, has stated its intention to develop a branch in the former Oddfellows building on E. State St in Jefferson if the bond issue is approved. One of the course strands in the new regional center would be software development and code writing.

While the bond referendum is for $21.48 million, the entire school project is pegged at $35.48 million. The $14 million gap will be filled by $5 million from the Greene County board of supervisors through tax increment financing (TIF) from the wind turbines in the northeast part of the county, $4.5 million from future school district funds already approved by the voters, and $4.5 million from Grow Greene County Gaming Corporation, which is the local non-profit that distributes grant funds from Wild Rose Casino in Jefferson.

The bond referendum requires 60 percent approval by the school district’s voters.

~by Rick Morain for Our Kids, Our Future – Greene County

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