“Building Opportunities” is the rather creative phrase the Urbandale Community School District, or UCSD, has been using to advertise the 2018 bond referendum. On February 6, 2018, registered voters of the UCSD will have the opportunity to vote on this bond referendum. While the plans of the bond referendum will not affect high school seniors, some of them have the ability to participate in the vote.
Through community meetings, forums, and conversations, the school board and UCSD’s superintendent, Steve Bass, have been informing anyone and everyone about the referendum. On Friday, January 12, 2018, Steve Bass visited Urbandale High School to present a video on the bond referendum and answer any questions Urbandale seniors may have. In the presentation, seniors learned that the referendum would pay for, “two new elementary schools, build an addition to Webster Elementary or UHS as needed for future enrollment growth, and accelerate the timeline for building a new high school fitness center.”
One question most of the community members have asked is, “why?” The answer to this questions has been clearly and confidently articulated by both the bond referendum website (www.urbandaleschools.com/vote) and the community meetings. The answer: equity, efficiency, opportunity, safety, and accountability.
Because Urbandale has the least amount of land compared to all other Iowa school districts and is landlocked, raising taxes is necessary in order to pay for the plan. When Superintendent Bass was at the high school, he stressed that, “Taxes would be raised just under 30 dollars a year for the average home in the Urbandale school district.” While some community members have stressed concerns about the tax increase, high school senior, Isabel Daza, conveys other concerns.
As the vote is getting closer, and the school board is advertising more, Daza took to Twitter to express her concerns. “No shade but if we put money into the PE Dept and continue to not have enough funding in the drama dept to have a musical every year I will fight everybody on the school board on god,” Daza tweeted on January 11, 2018. Daza’s concern results in feeling upset about how money is spent in the Urbandale school district. “I know on Twitter it probably felt really abrasive, but that’s kind of my comedic style mixed with passion. I know I must be missing something, because lower income schools in the Des Moines area are pouring funding into the drama programs, at least enough for them to have two musicals, while our department can only have one,” explained Daza when questioned about her recent tweet.
Daza feels passionately about the way the school district addresses issues. “My point is why are we directing funding at new facilities, for existing programs when we either are lacking in other areas, or don’t have them at all?” questions Daza. When asked if she was encouraging peers not to vote ‘yes’, she responded, “I’m encouraging questions. I don’t want to shut the idea down, we just need to prioritize. So, yes, I’m asking people to vote no.”
Isabel Daza believes an open dialog with the school board regarding where they prioritize funding would be beneficial. “It seems that a ‘yes’ is the easiest vote on the planet, but we are still ignoring other issues that have been within the district for over 18 years. If we just direct our attention to the actual issues and stop looking at things that are cosmetic, maybe we could get somewhere.”
Regardless of where people of the Urbandale Community School District fall on the yes-to-no spectrum, their voice can be heard on February 6, 2018 when the bond referendum vote will take place.