Monday, January 22, 2018

2018 Legislative Session

The 2018 Iowa LegislThe 2018 Iowa Legislative session started on January 8th. There are a several important topics for CCA and other Iowa Schools.

  1. State Supplemental Aid: State supplemental Aid is typically discussed as the percent increase in per pupil funding in the State. Last week Governor Reynolds recommended a SSA increase of 1.5% for Iowa Schools. Currently the cost per pupil is $6,700, a 1.5% increase would take it to $6,800, or an additional $100/student. In talking with legislators it seems more likely that SSA will more likely be approved at somewhere between 0% and 1%.
At CCA our certified enrollment was up 187 students on the October 1, 2017 count day. In the event of a 0% increase in SSA the district would see “new money” of $1,250,900. The Governor’s recommendation would result in “new money” of $1,271,600.

While CCA is fortunate to have “new money”, the low SSA percentage makes maintaining the class sizes the district and our patrons value impossible. With all other expenses increasing at a faster rate than SSA revenue increases we are put in the position to do more with less.

2.              SAVE extension: Secure an Advanced Vision for Education, SAVE is revenue for Iowa schools generated from sales tax across the State. The program was initially voted into existence by each of Iowa’s 99 counties and later became a State wide per pupil funding stream. Funds from SAVE can be utilized for large equipment purchases, facilities construction and maintenance, vehicle purchases, and technology purchases.

At CCA much of our SAVE revenue was bonded against previously in order to build the high school athletic complex, Performing Arts Center, and a pod of classrooms at North Bend Elementary. The current SAVE legislation sunsets in 2029.

An extension to the SAVE legislation is critical for CCA, as well as nearly every district in Iowa. For CCA the funds from an extension could be utilized for the purchase of a site for a future high school, projected to be needed in 2027; construction for a transportation facility; construction for a baseball/softball complex at the current high school; and help fund construction of a future high school.        

3.              Transportation Equalization: A bill nearly made it through the legislature last session that would have supported districts with per pupil transportation costs higher than the State average. While CCA isn’t significantly higher than the State average, the bill would have brought approximately $50,000 to the district as it was developed last session. Those dollars would certainly be welcomed in our tight budget. This is also a critical bill for many rural districts who have much higher transportation costs per pupil.

4.              Education Savings Accounts: There continues to be talk of establishing an Education Savings account for families who choose options other than public education. Under the current system private schools receive State dollars for services like special education, meal programs, etc. An Education Savings account would allow families to personally collect the per pupil funding rate from the State to apply it to private education, home school costs, or bank it for college tuition. While there are certainly plenty of opinions on utilizing public tax dollars for private education, perhaps the biggest question is where would the State get the revenue to fund such a program in the current fiscal environment?

Please make the effort to contact your legislators and share your feelings regarding any and all of these issues. If you have questions about any of them feel free to contact me,, 319-828-4510.

Tim Kuehl

Below are the legislators representing CCA:
Link to the webpage with emails.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Questions Raised about the CCA Bond

A flyer was posted around Tiffin this evening. Please consider that there is misinformation in the flyer. Please take the time to consider factual information as you go to the polls tomorrow.

Proposed HS Parking: $2.564 million. The long range plans would project a new HS opening in 2027. Ten years from now. The current lot at the high school will be overflowing well before then.

Proposed New Entry at the MS: Will not require removing the current drive. Will create another drive out, allowing traffic to loop through instead of turning around in the lot and coming back out the same way.

Proposed entrance to the elementary: I assume they are referencing Tiffin Elementary as one year old. Nothing is happening there. The other elementary buildings will have improved security, like TE, where visitors must be buzzed in through the office in order to enter the building.

Public Library Space: This has no effect on classroom space, or library space for that matter. The city public library is allowed to keep the space open extra hours. They also pay for staffing and materials.

The CCA tax rate did go up in FY 17. This was do to the need to utilize the Cash Reserve Levy. Without utilizing this levy we wouldn't have the cash to pay our bills, even though we have more than enough spending authority. As I've said all along, even with the district rate staying constant, if property valuations continue to rise the dollar amount patrons are asked to pay will increase. The general fund of the district is limited to the dollars we can generate by a per pupil funding formula. So that portion of the rate is variable. The debt service portion of the CCA rate would generate more dollars to pay off debt as valuations increase. I have no idea where the 10-15% increase came from. I probably did say the debt service portion of our rate could only go up a small amount. It can't exceed $4.05.

I would be very interested to hear how we can meet the needs of our growing population without a bond issue to create more classroom space. Tiffin Elementary currently has 449 students attending and North Bend Elementary currently has 459 students attending. North Bend is over its instructional capacity of 450 students, the faculty work room is being utilized as a classroom this year. If the district utilized bussing fully to Clear Creek Elementary and Amana Elementary we are projected to exceed total elementary capacity ofter the 2020-2021 school year.

The last bond vote was in February, 2014. If we stick to the long range plan and continue to grow as projected I would anticipate another vote in 2022, 5 years from now.

Please feel free to email me with any questions:


Tim Kuehl, Superintendent

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Valuations, TIF and the Impact on School Finances

In light of the conversations around taxes and valuation spurred by the proposed bond here is some information of interest to CCA patrons. One area that CCA is a leader in the State is in the percentage of our valuation enrolled in TIF programs. My intent is not to argue for or against TIF, but to inform patrons regarding the impact it has on school revenues.

TIF removes valuations from the calculation of General Fund tax rate. The district is allocated revenue from the State based on a per pupil amount. The tax rate for the General Fund portion of the district budget is calculated on the valuation of $687,285,523.  Without TIF in our district the General Fund tax rate would be calculated on $1,108,765,102. In effect the TIF causes everyone else to pay a higher rate in order for the district to collect its General Fund dollars.

An important factor to know in relation to the bond is that TIF valuations are NOT exempt from the Debt Service Levy, which is used to pay off bond issues. So, the Debt Service rate of $4.036, as of FY17, is applied to the total valuation in the district.

CCA's valuations for FY 17, the 2016-2017 school year, are listed in the chart below. Under "Levy Authority" you can see the valuations for the historic Amana and Clear Creek district, followed by the combined totals for CCA.

 CCA Valuation by Historical District and Overall

Residential valuations make up the largest portion of valuations in the CCA district at 42.05%, followed by Commercial valuations at 41.79%. 

Percentage of Overall Valuation Represented by each Category
CCA lives with one of the highest TIF percentages in the State, with 38.01% of our total valuation being in TIF. Note that 72.81% of Commercial valuation and 73.58% of Industrial valuation are currently in TIF. If the TIF valuations were calculated into the CCA General Fund levy rate patrons would see a drop of approximately $1.95 in the rate.  

Percentage of each Category in TIF

There is a considerable amount of Commercial and Residential development planned in the CCA district over the coming years. The growth in valuation will allow the district to control our overall tax rate and generate the bonding capacity needed to meet the instructional needs of our growing student population. Local municipalities have to make challenging decisions regarding how to utilize TIF in those developing areas. If you have further questions about CCA valuations and the impact of TIF on the district tax rate and budget, please contact Tim Kuehl, Superintendent:, 319-818-4510.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Early Voting/Polling Sites and Bond Facts

Good morning CCA Community. Today marks the first day of early voting for both the bond referendum and for the open board of directors positions for CCA. Note that the precincts are different for early voting.

Friday, August 11, 2017

What if the bond fails?

A question that has come up several times is, "What happens if the bond fails?" In the event the bond fails the district will need to take other measures in order to alleviate the over crowding at North Bend Elementary and Tiffin Elementary. At this point there is not a hard plan with Board of Education approval to deal with that possible reality. One of two scenarios to deal with the over crowding seem likely:

1. Beginning in 18-19 students could be bussed from North Bend Elementary to Clear Creek Elementary or Amana Elementary. Students would need to be bussed from Tiffin Elementary beginning in the 19-20 school year. It's likely that fifth grade students would be transported first, with fourth graders being added as dictated by available space at North Bend Elementary and Tiffin Elementary.

2. Another option would be to reconfigure the elementary attendance boundaries. In order to alleviate the overcrowding at North Bend and Tiffin Elementary Schools the Clear Creek Elementary boundary would need to be moved east, to include more students from Tiffin. At this time I do not know exactly where the boundary would have to be in order to move enough students to Clear Creek Elementary. The Tiffin Elementary Boundary would then need to be adjusted to bring in students from the current North Bend Elementary attendance area. That could mean bringing students from the northern part of North Liberty to Tiffin Elementary. Again, we would need to closely analyze the student numbers to ensure moving enough students to balance the attendance at North Bend and Tiffin Elementary Schools.

Neither of these options are ideal, and neither deals with the long term challenges of enrollment growth. These options also create increased expenditures from the general fund, especially option 1, with the increased bussing.

It's also important to keep in mind that if we utilize every classroom in Clear Creek and Amana Elementary Schools our elementary enrollment will still surpass capacity in the 2021-2022 school year. So, the district will be forced to add more classroom space by that time. Another consideration is that construction costs inflate at approximately 3% each year. So, the $36 million  of improvements proposed on the current bond would cost $38,192,400 in two years.

The increased student enrollment is coming to CCA. Without the facilities provided by the proposed bond one of these options will need to be utilized in the short term. The district will absolutely need to add increased classroom space by 2021-2022 for elementary students and the high school will surpass its capacity of 900 students in 2022-2023.


Tim Kuehl, CCA Superintendent

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Baseball / Softball Fields

In light of concerns raised regarding the baseball and softball fields here is some information regarding some of what I've seen. Please feel free to contact me directly,, if you would like to discuss further. I would welcome the opportunity to discuss this in person.

The concerns about the facilities are understood and shared by the Board and administration. The distance to the softball field is inconvenient and a safety concern. The condition of the baseball field is not at the level that we expect for CCA facilities. We are working to resolve these issues, but fiscal resources are real limiting factors.

During the work of the facilities committee last summer they discussed these facilities, but chose to focus on the academic environment of CCA students with their bond proposal to the Board. Historically, extracurricular facilities have been constructed using the SAVE fund, revenue to the district from the State $0.01 sales tax.

Assertion that the baseball/softball complex was on the 2008 bond issue. This is not true. The ballot language at the time addressed a new elementary school, new high school, land purchase and site improvements. Site improvements referred to working on the land directly around the new buildings, specifically at North Bend, which was the new land purchase. From what I have gathered there were conceptual drawings developed showing this complex to the south of the high school. It was not ever engineered at that time. I have been told that it was part of discussion of a "second phase". I wasn't involved in the discussions at that time, but it evidently was removed from those plans at some point.

During the last year the district has researched putting a complex at the high school site. Engineers have worked on the needed grading, the building and grounds director has put together costs for the development of a complex. The cost of developing competition diamonds for baseball and softball is just under $900,000. At this time the district does not have funds available in the Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL) or SAVE (State $0.01 sales tax) funds to cover this expense. The PPEL funds are used for bus purchases, technology purchases, and facilities maintenance. The SAVE funds were largely tied up with the construction of the high school outdoor athletic complex, Performing Arts Center, and the last pod of classrooms at North Bend. The extension of the SAVE fund by the Iowa Legislature would provide the needed funds to make this complex a reality.

This spring during budget development the PPEL/SAVE Committee of the Board discussed regrading the current baseball facility. The cost would be approximately $250,000. After lengthy discussion the committee decided to postpone the project, waiting to see if the legislature will extend the SAVE funds as they discussed during this session. Those funds are reserved in the SAVE budget at this time.

While I certainly understand that this issue is a real, pertinent issue, I hope that it can be resolved without muddying the waters of the bond. Please learn as much as you can about the circumstances creating the bond proposal and vote for or against that based on it's own merits. I can be reached by email:, phone: 319-215-2200 to answer your questions.

Upcoming Bond presentations, all are at 6:30 in the school library:
7/13 Tiffin Elementary
7/18 Amana Elementary
7/20 Clear Creek Elementary
8/7   North Bend Elementary (rescheduled from 7/11)


Tim Kuehl