Dubuque School Board puts $150 million bond referendum on November ballot

The question is over millions of dollars, but no matter if voters say “yes” or “no” this fall, their property tax rates won’t increase.
Published: Aug. 15, 2023 at 6:07 AM CDT
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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) - It’s official: voters in the Dubuque Community School District (DCSD) will see a multi-million dollar bond referendum on the ballot this November.

Monday night, the school board completed the formal process to put the question to voters. However, whether voters say “yes” or “no” this fall, their property tax rates won’t increase.

More than 3,100 signatures were presented to the DCSD’s board Monday night, all representing people in favor of placing a $150 million bond referendum on the ballot.

“One of the asks is air conditioning of the remaining of our buildings that are not currently air-conditioned,” said Superintendent Amy Hawkins. “There’s an ask to move from three middle schools to two.”

Hawkins said condensing the district’s middle schools from three to two would save the district an estimated $3.5 million dollars a year. The plan would mean a new school would go on the site of Washington Middle School. The new building would replace Washington and Jefferson Middle Schools.

The bond would also include funding for:

  • A new gym for Eisenhower Elementary
  • The construction of a baseball and softball complex
  • Land for a future elementary school

District officials said these changes won’t translate to a change in anyone’s budget. The district’s current school tax levy rate of $14.51 per $1,000 of assessed property value will remain in place.

“We have our tax levy rate, and with our declining enrollment, we could possibly lower that tax rate,” said Hawkins. “But instead of lowering it, we’re going to keep it the same, and then use those funds to help build the things that the district needs could to continue to be running efficiently.”

Declining enrollment has the district looking to see how they can make their dollars go further, and they’re now asking voters to green-light their plan.

Board members said, starting in September, there will be info sessions and other opportunities for the community to learn more about what’s involved in the process moving forward.