The Bettendorf Community School District lies nestled between two districts that are a study in contrasts. One is struggling with budget issues, special education and declining enrollment. The other consistently ranks high nationally on academics, has incredible facilities and enrollment is increasing. On Tuesday December 11, district residents will have an opportunity to decide which path they want for Bettendorf schools.
A vote on the $30 million general obligation bond referendum provides insight into what a district resident wants for the future of Bett schools. A YES vote signals a commitment to keeping students safe and buildings secure. The passage of the bond will bring new, more secure entrances to two elementary schools. A YES vote indicates a commitment to preparing students for careers beyond high school. The Future-Ready Center at the high school will convert obsolete space to classroom and enrichment areas. A YES vote is a pledge to the students of BCSD that the buildings where they learn, play, grow and spend so much time are well-maintained and well-equipped for 21st century learning.
Recently, the district has used existing resources to make significant and necessary investments in facilities. One brand-new elementary school is complete, and another is being built in order to replace three schools that are past their useful life and to keep pace with growth in the community. In addition, the high school added a modern Performing Arts Center and installed a much-needed HVAC system. And yet, since 1908, BCSD has not requested a GO bond referendum vote. The truth is that some of the facilities are showing the effects of 20 years of growth and a dynamic student body. Now it’s time for district residents to make an investment that will bring all Bett schools to the same standard.
The district has a responsibility to use taxpayer money efficiently and sensibly. If this bond does not pass, expect district leaders to be forced to make some difficult decisions. Projects will be scaled back and extracurricular programs might be cut if funds are needed elsewhere. Students, teachers and staff will feel the effects of school facilities not being a priority to the voters. We can't let that happen.
The projects outlined by the district are the result of careful building assessments done by local firms, recommendations from facility advisory councils as well as community and school board input. When the GO bond referendum passes, it will provide the revenue needed to complete all recommended projects. Plans include expanding STEM learning environments, improving and adding orchestra, vocal and band rooms, giving physical education students and athletes space needed to succeed, and creating facilities that will make the community proud.
Residents of this district have always advocated and encouraged great schools. Good property values and a robust real estate market reflect this notion. Strong communities support schools. That support should include voting to improve schools for our kids and the people that teach, coach and care about them. Voters must decide if the students in our community are worth their investment. I think they are, that’s why I’m voting Yes on Dec. 11. I encourage all Bettendorf district voters to vote YES for Bett.