Skip to main content

It’s time to do more than apply a Band-Aid to our school facilities

In recent weeks, I’ve read two letters to the editor authored by Terry Denner. The letters appear negative in nature regarding the much needed updates for our schools within the New Hampton Community School District. I’m taken aback by his alleged expertise in the architectural aspect of school design and square footage costs in today’s market. His remarks, in his 13 Dec 2016 letter, about “the only thing missing is the Olympic sized swimming pool and the elevated walking track around the gym” should — at the least — be offensive to the reader and planners who have spent so much time on this venture. He mentions, in his 6 Dec 2016 letter, repeatedly about square footage needs and costs and the “state recommended average” 125 square feet per student inside the learning environment. I’ll add confusion for the reader; legally detained inmates in a county jail (built before 1984) under Iowa Code, requires 60 square feet of space per prisoner in a dormitory style cell. Does it sound strange that I just equated square footage in a jail cell to the recommended square footage to a student in a learning environment? Sure it does. I’ll agree with Terry, we are losing students. Our county population is down (from 1980-2015) a negative (-) 21.64 percent. That ranks 63rd in the state of Iowa. If you have access to the internet, please review the Iowa State Association of Counties (ISAC) website. Our “2017 County Property Tax Rates” (found under 2017 County Financial Overview) shows that Chickasaw County is ranked at 82nd, 74th, and 86th, respectfully for tax rates out of 99 counties within the State of Iowa. The general meaning – we are near the bottom for tax rates. Is it any wonder we are losing students? Who wants to raise their family in the New Hampton School District? Who wants to live in Chickasaw County? We spend no money for needed infrastructure and services, nor do we spend money for needed updates to our School District. Do we build the shed to only hold the tractor and nothing more? Do we plant the field to yield the minimum amount of grain, nothing more? Let’s redesign our home kitchen for two “buttocks” instead of four, we can stand. Let’s build the garage to accommodate one car, nothing more. We can cover the other items with tarps. Yes, I pay taxes and I can hear the verbal and nonverbal discontent now. Our community is on the verge of nonexistence. We are coming to the proverbial fork in the road. You will be asked in the near future to move forward (with these school designs) or turn around and park in the same old place. My children were involved in nearly every aspect of school and extra-curricular activities. I’ve been to the new gyms and the new facilities at our area communities and within our NEIC school districts and have been highly impressed and have seen the pride in the people and the school. I’m embarrassed when people come to the New Hampton Community School District to see what we have to offer within our antiquated buildings and facilities. We all know those who will vigorously debate that gravity does not exist and that the world is flat. Those are the minimal few who seem to raise the most ire and are unwilling to change or accept what is. I want to thank those who have “put their name on the ballot” and have been willing to stand and serve on an elected board or in a public office and to honor a commitment to their fellow citizens. Those same officials receive the criticisms and the “oh, how dare you” comments from those minimal few. This school process is about our children. It’s about our communities. It’s about our survival as a District. If we don’t invest now, the cost will be astronomical in the future. Get it done. Do it right the first time. I’ve noticed, in my public service, we tend to band-aid things needing a tourniquet. “A school is a building that has four walls with tomorrow inside.”

Thank you for reading!

To read the full version of all available articles, you must be a subscriber to the New Hampton Tribune's website. To become a subscriber, please click here to be taken to our subscription page. If you already are a subscriber, please click here to login to the site and continue reading. Thank you.