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PPEL: Frequently Asked Questions

The River Valley CSD School Board has passed a resolution to place a Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL) on the ballot for Tuesday, December 11, 2018. In doing so, the district and board look to address several important needs throughout the schools:

1) Safety and security of our schools, students and staff
The security needs of schools are constantly changing. While our schools are currently very safe, we believe we must do everything we can to protect our students, teachers, staff and guests well into the future. Plans call for upgrades, including a new camera system and door lockdown improvements, that will continue to ensure our school buildings are safe and secure. 

2) Learning environments that prepare students for the future
We look to make parking lot improvements and build a new drive at River Valley Junior/Senior High School that will make for more efficient pick-up and drop-off for families and reduce traffic congestion. Additionally, some buildings need new flooring and other classroom improvements to enhance the student learning environment.

3) Improved energy efficiency of district facilities
By investing in upgraded HVAC systems, better exterior wall insulation and new ceilings, the district aims to save money on utility costs in the long term. Overall, we are interested in finding the best ways to ensure the long-term viability of our facilities through improved systems and technology. 

4) Enhanced technology resources for students
We look to increase access to technology for our students to help prepare them for the careers of the 21st century. This includes new interactive SMART Boards, computers and science lab equipment that provides for hands-on experiences that boost engagement and problem-solving skills for students. 

5) Improved and more efficient transportation 
The PPEL would allow the school district to make needed upgrades to its current fleet, which includes eight buses and nine other vehicles used for student transportation. There is also a truck and plow for snow removal. Approximately $100,000 will go toward the purchase of a bus with seat belts every three years. 

We have established this web page as a place for our community members to get the information they need about the upcoming PPEL vote. Below you will find answers to frequently asked questions and other updates on the district’s needs.

River Valley CSD School Board
Gaylen Goettsch, President
Scott Knaack, Vice President
Kristi Krager                     
Deb Stevenson                     
Nicole Deeds 

Frequently Asked Questions

Below you will find some answers to frequently asked questions about River Valley CSD’s efforts to address facilities needs throughout our schools. It includes information on the upcoming Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL) vote. If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.  

Will the community get to vote on this? If so, when?
Yes, all eligible voters who live within the boundaries of the River Valley CSD will have the opportunity to vote yes or no on the PPEL on December 11, 2018. This will be a Special School Election per § 39.2(4)(c) of the Iowa State Statutes. 

What will the PPEL cover? 
If the community approves the PPEL question on the December 11 ballot, the district plans to address the following issues and needs.

  • Repairs and renovations to school buildings and facilities:
  • New drive for parent pick-up/drop-off
  • Sprinkler system for fire prevention
  • Courtyard
  • Repaired ceilings
  • Reconfigured HVAC systems
  • Updated camera system
  • Classroom upgrades, including new desks, equipment and technology
  • New and/or repaired flooring
  • Locker room locker replacement 
  • Hallway locker repair/replacement
  • Upgrades to the auditorium 
  • Wellness center improvements, allowing for access to community members in the 2018-19 school year
  • Sidewalk and parking lot repair at River Valley Elementary School
  • Baseball field improvement at elementary school
  • Track improvements
  • Playground improvement at elementary school
  • Kitchen improvements
  • Updated interactive media centers (libraries)

Improvements to buses and other school vehicles:

  • Updates to the current fleet, which includes eight buses and nine other vehicles (four suburbans, two vans, two pickup trucks and one SUV) used for student transportation. There is also a truck and plow for snow removal.
  • Approximately $100,000 will go toward buses with seat belts (purchasing one every three years).

Security equipment and upgrades:

  • New cameras
  • New door locks

Upgraded classroom technology:

  • Interactive SMART Boards
  • New computers (on a 3 to 4-year rotation)
  • New 1:1 computers (on a 3 to 4-year rotation)
  • Science lab equipment, providing for hands-on lab experiences that increase engagement and problem-solving skills for students

Would the PPEL increase property taxes?
The PPEL question on the ballot will ask voters to approve a 10-year levy increase that will not exceed $1.34 per every $1,000 of assessed property value. If approved, the PPEL would generate funds to allow the district to address several of its most pressing facilities needs. The measure would not raise local property taxes beyond their 2018-19 levels. 

What is the question that will appear on the ballot on December 11?
The official ballot language, approved by the River Valley CSD School board, is as follows:

Shall the Board of Directors of the River Valley Community School District, in the Counties of Woodbury, Cherokee and Ida, State of Iowa, for the purpose of purchasing and improving grounds; constructing schoolhouses or buildings and opening roads to schoolhouses or buildings; purchasing of buildings; purchase, lease or lease-purchase of technology and equipment; paying debts contracted for the erection or construction of schoolhouses or buildings, not including interest on bonds; procuring or acquisition of libraries; repairing, remodeling, reconstructing, improving, or expanding the schoolhouses or buildings and additions to existing schoolhouses; expenditures for energy conservation; renting facilities under Chapter 28E; purchasing transportation equipment for transporting students; lease purchase option agreements for school buildings or equipment; purchasing equipment authorized by law; or for any purpose or purposes now or hereafter authorized by law, be authorized for a period of ten (10) years to levy and impose a voter-approved physical plant and equipment tax of not exceeding One Dollar Thirty-Four Cents ($1.34) per One Thousand Dollars ($1,000) of assessed valuation of the taxable property within the school district, and be authorized annually, in combination, as determined by the board, to levy a physical plant and equipment property tax upon all the taxable property within the school district commencing with the levy of property taxes for collection in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2020, and to impose a physical plant and equipment income surtax upon the state individual income tax of each individual income taxpayer resident in the school district on December 31 for each calendar year commencing with calendar year 2019, or each year thereafter?

How much money would the school district receive if the PPEL passes?
If passed, the PPEL will allow the district to collect $191,000 in additional revenue annually over the next 10 years. All revenue generated will go toward the facilities improvements and upgrades listed above. 

Can the district make cuts in other areas to fund these facilities upgrades?
District administration and board members have always worked to find ways to make the most of the funds state and local taxpayers have invested in our schools. However, the district has numerous facilities-related needs that require investments that go beyond our operational budget. The board does not believe the district should reduce programs or services for students in order to fund these needed improvements.