CEDAR RAPIDS — Kirkwood Community College officials hope to complete the first of three new regional education centers by August 2013 after voters approved a 15-year, $46.5 million bond issue Tuesday.
The college’s bond measure passed with 72 percent approval — 11,180 “yes” votes to 4,344 “no” — according to unofficial totals last night. It needed a 60 percent majority in the seven-county Kirkwood district where it was on the ballot.
Kirkwood President Mick Starcevich said he was pleased with the wide margin, and he said the new regional education centers will be “innovation centers” for area high school students.
“This is not just about Kirkwood. It’s about our entire service area that we serve,” he said. “I think people saw the need for what we are trying to accomplish.”
The measure is a 15-year bond extension of an existing 10-year bond that voters passed in 2005. The new 15-year measure will go into effect in 2015 when the other bond expires. The measure generates 20 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation. For the owner of a $100,000 home, the cost is about $9.60 per year.
Of the three new education centers, one will be built in partnership with the University of Iowa on the UI’s Oakdale Campus. That likely will be bid next spring, with expected completion in August 2013, Starcevich said. As for the other two regional centers, one will be built in Washington, Iowa, and one in the Marion or Hiawatha area.
The centers will have the same concept as the Jones Regional Education Center in Monticello, which offers Kirkwood college-level classes and partners with local high schools to offer college-credit classes and career and technical programs for high schoolers.
The new centers also will be based on the same building design as the Monticello center, Starcevich said, to save on architectural costs.
In addition to funding the new regional centers, the bond money will be used for major renovations at Linn Hall on Kirkwood’s Cedar Rapids campus. Linn Hall, built in 1969 as the first building on campus, originally housed programs in auto tech, auto body and welding. It needs classroom and lab upgrades and repairs to the heating, cooling, plumbing and ventilation systems, Starcevich said. Switching to a geothermal energy system in that building is expected to save about $200,000 in energy costs annually.