Voters have twice rejected multi-million dollar school bond referendums, but now the leaders of an eastern Iowa school district are going ahead with alternate plans to build a new school. Dale Monroe, superintendent of the Anamosa School District, says the current century-old building is, literally, falling apart around the students’ heads.

Monroe says, “We will, in two years, fall of 2012, hopefully have a very nice facility for the students of Anamosa to learn in.” The school was in the news in January after a ceiling and a row of lights collapsed while 18 students and two teachers were in the room. No one was seriously hurt. This week, the Anamosa School Board unanimously approved a plan to accept the Iowa Department of Education’s offer of $12.4 million under the Qualified School Construction Bond Program.

Monroe says the program allows lenders to get tax credits in lieu of interest, so districts get interest-free money for construction projects. “I’m really pleased for the students and for the staff,” he says. “You have to only spend 20 or 30 minutes in our current 100-year-old building to realize it’s a grand building, it’s lived its life and unfortunately, it’s not going to get any better no matter how much money you put into it.”

Exactly a month ago, the district’s voters rejected the latest bond issue proposal to build a new school, priced at $15-million. Monroe says most Anamosa residents recognized a new school needed to be built, but they had concerns. Monroe says, “By the time we got done with the meeting, I think there was a genuine feeling that we’re doing this for our students, let’s get on with it, we’ve had our say now, it’s time to make things happen for the students of Anamosa.”

The district will pay back the debt with proceeds from the local-option sales tax for school infrastructure. Voter approval was not required and there will be no increase in property taxes.

By Janelle Tucker, KMCH, Manchester