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Alliance & Chamber Supports Upcoming Waterloo and Cedar Falls Schools Proposals

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Alliance & Chamber Supports Upcoming Waterloo and Cedar Falls Schools Proposals

(Cedar Valley of Iowa) The Board of Directors of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber voted unanimously to endorse two proposals by Waterloo and Cedar Falls school districts. Waterloo Community Schools has a $47 million proposal to build a career center, expand career and technical education and renovate its high schools. Cedar Falls Community Schools proposes to fund upgrades at North Cedar and Orchard Hill elementary buildings and build a new elementary school in southwest Cedar Falls at a total cost of $32 million. The Board took the action following detailed presentations by the districts’ superintendents and questioning during its January 5 meeting.

Specifically, the Alliance & Chamber approved each proposal separately, though in characteristic manner, the actions were combined into one motion, displaying unity of the regional business community.

The board also reinforced the districts’ and superintendents’ design of the programs to provide the benefits of the Career-Technical curriculum to students throughout the Cedar Valley.

Cedar Valley Wide Impact

A compelling factor in the support for the two proposals is the ability for students from outside the host District to enroll in the Career-Technical Education programs, utilizing channels already in place to ensure the District is adequately compensated for the high-value curriculum delivered. Also, both Waterloo’s Academies and Cedar Falls’ CAPS programs will easily transfer credit to Hawkeye and UNI degree programs. This is important to ensure the student can seamlessly continue work toward a degree, obtaining the most current knowledge in the field, and entering the career field at the most opportune time for the student. It also defines clear career pathways for the student, and a quantifiable pipeline of candidates for jobs in the Cedar Valley.

The Alliance & Chamber board believes the taxpayers should approve these proposals. Business and education must work together to ensure continuing growth in our economy, while preparing smart, knowledgeable, engaged citizens. These proposals, well executed, will do both. Plus, a smooth transition to Hawkeye and UNI is precisely what students need to minimize their cost and time spent preparing for a great career in the Cedar Valley.

Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber Chairman David Braton recapped the discussion of the board, stating, “Workforce development is critical to the growth of the Cedar Valley. The Alliance & Chamber applauds Waterloo and Cedar Falls Schools staff and school boards for taking these bold steps to give our students the best education in a changing world. Workforce development is the key to our economic success.”

Vote “Yes” on February 2 and April 5

The Alliance & Chamber encourages all voters of the Waterloo and Cedar Falls schools to view these initiatives favorably, and as investments in the future generations of Cedar Valley citizens.

Please vote Yes on Tuesday, February 2 for Waterloo’s Career Center and High School Renovation Plan.

Please also vote Yes on Tuesday, April 5 for Cedar Falls’ Elementary Construction & Upgrades Plan.

Waterloo Schools Career Center

The Alliance & Chamber Board recognizes the outstanding research and planning by Waterloo Schools that included broad representation of the business community. The District included the entire community in the development of a plan that matches the needs of students and our businesses. The Waterloo District is focusing the use of this specialized building on implementation of a menu of academies that will begin a student’s preparation for a career in a well-paying and significant job, or even starting their own business. Waterloo plans to implement 15 Academies in school year 18-19, and fully implement the 30-Academy structure by school year 20-21. The first 15 Academies address areas of immediate impact such as Computer Science, Engineering & Robotics, and Bio-medical and Nursing; while others start students toward careers in needed trades and services such as Construction Technology, Computer Aided Drafting & Design, Automotive Technologies, and Manufacturing Technology. These address current and anticipated high-demand skills in the Cedar Valley.

Cedar Falls CAPS and Elementary School Construction Program

Usually, the Alliance & Chamber would not publicly endorse proposals for specific elementary school construction and expansion programs. This time, however, it is important to underscore that modern education requires attention to facility upgrades at all levels of education. Cedar Falls’ student population is projected to increase significantly over the next decade, in contrast to many other locations that are projecting shrinking elementary populations. Cedar Falls’ growth has generated the need for additions onto some schools to eliminate trailer-like, temporary classrooms. The need to add flexibility in the use of the space and install advanced technologies infrastructure in all schools combines with District growth to be sound reasons to support this proposal. During the presentation, the Alliance & Chamber Board focused first on the implementation of the Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) initiative, and immediately connected success in CAPS at the high school level with the need for modern elementary and middle school facilities.

The mission of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber is to increase economic vitality and wealth by leading collaborative economic and community development. Details about the many programs and initiatives of the Alliance & Chamber can be found at www.cedarvalleyalliance.com or by calling Steve Dust, CEO at (319) 232-1156.

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For further information, contact Steve Dust, CEO, at SDust@CedarVAlleyAlliance.com or Wendy Bowman, Director of Communications at WBowman@CedarValleyAlliance.com or 319-232-1156; or Dave Braton, Chair of the Board, at 319-291-1400 or David.Braton@Lee.net

Alliance & Chamber Supports Cedar Falls Facilities Plan Bond Proposal

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber supports the comprehensive facilities plan proposed by the Cedar Falls Community School District, and encourages patrons of the district to support this important program at the polls on Tuesday September 9.

Businesses and institutions of all types and sizes rely on modern infrastructure to encourage and accommodate economic growth and job creation. Perhaps as in no time in the past, the quality of educational content and experience delivered in advanced school facilities is critical to the continuing strength of our economy. Our Cedar Valley regional school facilities must lead in design, features and amenities to help our students become leaders in educational preparation and attainment.

This is true throughout the Cedar Valley economic area.  We have all seen tangible and intangible benefits from the building program financed by the Local Option Sales Tax over the last decade. Now, it is essential that our educational facilities at all levels prepare students for the emerging jobs and challenges of community citizenship of tomorrow.

We point out that this is precisely the kind of investment that must be made now to ensure that our students can take advantage of the opportunities of the future economy. Our businesses are particularly sensitive to increases in property taxes given the disproportionate burden placed directly on commercial and industrial property owners and indirectly on their tenants. For us to see the advantages to these investments in school facilities, we also recognize a huge return on these investments – a return that comes in the form of more successful teacher recruitment and retention, and student preparation and achievement.  We must see the plan helping to “fill the pipeline” with graduates well-prepared to assume highly productive roles in the future economy. We currently have a skills mismatch, and a shortage of talented people for new jobs that rely on “brainpower” and soft skills. Students with rounded educational experiences highlighted by hands-on experience, and achievement in sciences, technologies, mathematics, as well as the arts and the interpersonal skills are and will be needed. We must make these key investments to provide the best environments in which knowledge and skills are learned and attract the highest quality educators.

But schools facilities construction programs cannot be executed outside the parameters we expect of any public investment in infrastructure or service. Further, with many school districts and institutions within the Cedar Valley examining capital and facilities programs and financings, we must insist on consistency in evaluation of the proposals and value delivered to the taxpayers, as well as the students of our regional districts and institutions.

  • We believe that the plans must take into account the most modern design and service delivery models feasible.
  • The plans must be comprehensive and consider new partnerships with other educational institutions and districts, fulfilling its obligations to the patrons of the specific school district or constituency while maximizing collaboration, coordination and minimization of duplication among neighboring school districts and higher educational institutions in programs, human resources, curriculum, and services.
  • The plans must have been vetted by the patrons in a manner to elicit and consider the spectrum of views on feasibility, financing mechanisms, and impact on their community, in order to establish credibility for the amounts needed to implement modern, and indeed, futuristic facilities expansion, repurposing, and replacement programs.

The Cedar Falls proposal meets these criteria and the expectations of our economy.

  • The district has been very good stewards of the patrons’ funds, maintaining a very low tax rate as compared to similar sized districts
  • The district has not asked their patrons to approve a bond issue for facilities in nearly 40 years.
  • The plan replaces facilities for rational reasons: the new facilities replace obsolete designs that can no longer be modified and upgraded to meet modern standards; landlocked facilities are moved to larger sites where future needs can be anticipated and addressed; and facilities are located where population growth is occurring and anticipated in the district.
  • The plan was vetted by District leadership internally and with significant community involvement, review and comment.

We encourage businesses, parents and all patrons of the Cedar Falls Community School district to support the bond referendum on Tuesday September 9.

Adopted by the Board of Directors

Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber

 

 

Steve Tscherter

Chair

 

Steve Dust, CEcD

CEO

 

 

 

Be part of something greater - The Cedar Valley of Iowa

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber is a regional economic community development corporation working to increase economic vitality and wealth in the Waterloo / Cedar Falls area and surrounding economic region. The Alliance & Chamber has approximately 800 members that represents over 40,000 employees