WAUKEE, Iowa — Sonja Sorrel recently moved into the Waukee school district with specific intentions for her third and first grade children. “We moved into this district intentionally because of how they were progressive about managing growth,” she said. That growth has come rapidly and the Waukee Community School District is trying to prove Sonja right by planning for future growth with a $117,000,000 second high school bond referendum on February 6th. Superintendent Cindi McDonald says the decision is easy, “The number of students currently at the elementary level for the past several years, they are moving through grades and as they move to high school we need to create space for those high school students.”
The price tag is above the recent $81,000,000 state of the art high school Johnston opened this school year but while those residents saw a property tax hike in $100 annually on a $200,000 home, district leaders believe Waukee property taxes won`t budge a penny. McDonald said, “The debt service portion of our tax rate is at it’s max so we can’t go any higher. Voting for the referendum does not impact taxes.” Sonja knows she will be voting yes. “This will have no impact on taxes so that’s great news for taxpayers of Waukee.”
The plans have not come without some concern at public meetings. McDonald said, “The building doesn’t have a pool included but we are looking at options to support the swimming program and all of our programs.”
District leaders have already found a site for the 382,000 square foot school with room for 1,800 students. It will be just north of R-22 off Hickman. “This is a sharing agreement with our city so we have a large space we can leverage at different times of the year for community and school events. That is one of the most exciting pieces of this project,” said McDonald.
Waukee is now ninth largest school district in the state and the only in Iowa with 10,000 students and only one high school. “Having a second high school will provide more opportunities for students and that`s why we are here to serve our kids and provide outstanding educational experiences,” said McDonald.
The referendum needs a sixty percent approval. If the item passes, the school is projected to open for 2021-2022 school year.