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Keokuk schools’ new levy to fund improvements across district

Keokuk voters approved a levy to fund improvements to public schools Tuesday. Something teachers said has been needed for awhile. The “Physical Plant and Equipment Levy” approved on Tuesday doesn’t mean anyone’s taxes are going up. It’s replacing the previous levy for the Middle School passed in 2000. By doing so improvements can be made to six different Keokuk school facilities, like replacing the roof of the Middle School.

“Students that I had, their parents were in here back in the early 90’s and late 80’s, so we’re pushing 30 plus years old,” said Industrial technology instructor at Keokuk High School Matt May, talking about the leaky roof in the welding shop that has been a problem for awhile, “right on the edge of the building we’ve had water come down during severe downpours, we’ve also fixed, and had maintenance fix leaks that were periodically all through the shop.”

District officials said that this new physical plant and equipment levy is designed to take care of issues like that all around the district without impacting the classroom.

“When you use general funds it means you’re likely going to have to do something different in your instruction and your staffing,” said Keokuk Community School District Superintendent Christine Barnes, “so we want to keep those general funds in the classroom environment as much as possible.”

Barnes said the new tax will help pay to replace pipes that are over 50 years old in some buildings, addressing space issues in the high school, and repairing the press-box at Calvert stadium, along with other repairs, maintenance, and technology upgrades.

“We’re just very appreciative to our community for their support and the understanding of the needs of updating and making sure we can offer the best opportunities for our students,” said Barnes.

Another project they plan to look into– replacing the welding shop roof.

“With this bond and the possibility of the roof getting fixed now, it makes a world of difference and a dry atmosphere for the kids to work in,” said May.

The levy tax will be $1.34 per $1,000 of property value, and will last ten years, with an option for voters to extend it if needed.

Other improvements include a new HVAC system at Hawthorne, brick repair at the Pre-School, and demolition of the old Jefferson school building. District officials said they’ll work with an outside contractor to prioritize projects in the coming months.

Frank Healy

Multimedia Journalist at WGEM

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