More details about a proposed bond referendum to pay for a handful of Eastern Iowa Community College projects — including a new career and technical education center in Clinton County — have been released.
A bond referendum is a public vote that allows residents the power to authorize or deny a governing body the means to raise funds through the sale of bonds.
In this case, the sale of bonds would be needed to construct, among other things, the CTE center that would offer a variety of classes for high schoolers and adults in Jackson and Clinton County. EICC has been working alongside superintendents from Jackson and Clinton counties to plan the building’s layout and curriculum.
According to documents shared at the November Central DeWitt School Board meeting, the bond referendum will ask taxpayers to approve one of two proposed referendums that range from $33 million to $40 million. The plan is for the referendum to be on ballots in March in each of EICC’s counties — Jackson, Clinton, Scott, Muscatine and Louisa.
EICC has two proposals for the referendum. Included on both referendums are:
• A new health wing at the Scott Community College Belmont Campus in Riverdale for an estimated $6,124,943.
• A CTE addition on the Blong Technology Center in Davenport for an estimated $2,543,764.
• A CTE and nursing building and welding/advanced manufacturing addition on the Muscatine Community College building for an estimated $12,689,085.
• An ag innovation center addition onto North Scott High School for an estimated $3 million.
Each referendum proposal is the same except for one project closer to home. EICC officials have yet to decide the location for the Clinton/Jackson CTE center and are mulling the idea of either building a CTE center in Clinton next to Clinton Community College or building the center offsite at either the Crossroads Industrial Park in DeWitt of the Clinton Railpark near Low Moor.
One of of those options will also be a part of a proposed March referendum.
According to documents provided by EICC, the building near CCC would cost an estimated $8,891,868. An off-site building would cost an estimated $11,221,839.
Northeast Community College Superintendent Neil Gray said he expects EICC officials to decide the location of the center in Clinton County by the end of 2020.
An optional add-on to the referendum that EICC officials are considering is a new entrance and student union area added onto the Scott Community College — that option would add another estimated $5,341,383 to the referendum.
Superintendents Tom Meyer and Chris Hoover, of Bellevue and Maquoketa, respectively, have both expressed concern about the proposed locations of the Clinton/Jackson center.
They both support building the center in Clinton County, but, they also are advocating for an investment in enhancements to the CCC campus already in place in Maquoketa.
The main sticking point, they say, is travel time. A one-way drive from Bellevue to the proposed site in Low Moor is between 46 and 54 minutes depending on the route. The drive to DeWitt via U.S. 61 is 43 minutes.
“To have our kids drive, or ride a bus, there — that’s two hours a day on the road. I’m not in favor of putting our kids on the road for that long,” Meyer.
Neither referendum proposal has an option for updates to the Maquoketa CCC campus.
Clinton Community College President Brian Kelly did not respond to a request for comment before press time.