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Kirkwood seeks new bond vote
by Margaret Stevens Mount Vernon-Lisbon Sun · September 7th, 2017

Voters in the Sept. 12 school election are being asked to extend for five years a 25-cent per $1,000 taxable value levy for Kirkwood Community College. This is a continuation of a levy first passed in 2005.

The estimated cost for a $200,000 home is $12.50 per year.

The levy, applied to property owners across 13 counties, would raise about $60 million for building projects. Proposed projects include:

Renovating Washington Hall, which houses Kirkwood's agricultural sciences department.

Renovating Iowa Hall in order to create a student center.

Adding 24,000 square feet of classroom space to the Iowa City campus.

Upgrading the automotive technology program by converting space at the Kirkwood Continuing Education Training Center into a state-of-the-art auto lab.

Kirkwood vice president for student services Jon Buse said the building improvements are an investment to meet the needs of the community Kirkwood serves.

"This keeps us moving forward so we maintain our position as one of the preeminent community colleges in the state and in the nation," he said.

Buse said the proposed building projects grew out of a multi-year research process to create a master plan. He said it is a genuine determination of the needs now and for the next 5 to 10 years.

The process included staff and student surveys, an examination of traffic patterns, and a comprehensive review of facilities, including accessibility.

Buse said a 3-year self study identified a student center as a key component to student success.

"We need to do a better job engaging students into the life of college," he said.

The center would help serve a diverse population, offering gathering places and other resources, besides a cafeteria.

Washington Hall is one of the oldest buildings on campus and Kirkwood has more ag students than any other community college in the nation.

 Buse said examples of

renovation there are upgrading the

surgical suites, where Kirkwood veterinary tech students train with veterinarians and allowing farm equipment repair programs to be moved inside.

The auto lab would use existing space to gather the auto repair programs into one place.

Buse said the economic health of the region depends on Kirkwood, with an estimated state impact of $1 billion annually. A vast majority of its students come from and remain in the area.
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