NORWALK, Iowa — There’s a special vote happening Tuesday in Norwalk. The school district is asking its voters to support a $24 million new Physical Education and Competition Center (NPECC) at the high school.
The polls opened at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. There is one polling location for this special vote. It’s at the St. John the Apostle Catholic Church at 720 Orchard Hills Drive, right off of North Avenue in Norwalk. They need 60 percent of the voters for it to pass.
“When you hear $24 million, that’s a large number, but we’re getting a lot from those dollars. As a school district, we are very cognizant that our property tax levy rate is higher compared to some other districts around the state. So, next year will be the fifth year in a row that we’ve decreased our tax levy rate. We are really proud of that and that we’re able to accomplish these projects, be fiscally responsible with the dollars we are entrusted with and gradually decrease the levy rate,” Norwalk Superintendent D.T. Magee said.
Superintendent Magee says there’s no guarantee to an individual’s property taxes because it’s a complex formula, but the school district is doing what it can to decrease the levy rate even with this $24 million project.
When Norwalk’s current high school gymnasium was built, the Warriors had a graduating class sizes of less than 100. Now its average class size is about 250. With that growth, the school said it simply needs more space and this facility can provide that.
“We’ve grown by over 300 students in the last two years. So as we grow, our facilities have to grow along with it and we’re trying to predict out into the future and what our facility needs, and not under build, but also not overbuild for what our needs will be in the future. We just need more space and right now our most emergent need for space is in our P.E. program,” Magee said.
While it will mainly be used for the physical education classes, the new center will also provide more space for things such as basketball and volleyball games, as well as other events. Magee said it would also provide enough space for Norwalk to host its own graduations. They currently hold their ceremonies in Indianola.
The new 80,000 square foot NPECC will be added to the southwest side of the high school near the current gymnasium. It will have a main gym, auxiliary gym, walking track, fitness center, concession stand, office and meeting spaces and room for more multi-use space and academic classrooms.
“The project also will include a three mat wrestling room and some paving down by the softball and baseball fields. We’d like to pave a gravel drive as well as add some additional parking spaces. It’s a very comprehensive project, so it’s more than just a gym. It is a project that will help us serve our needs well into the future,” Magee said.
A new gymnasium has been in the talks since 2004, according to Magee, but they didn’t think it would be possible this early on. Thankfully, he said increasing taxable commercial valuations nearby made the project possible sooner.
Norwalk has recently renovated multiple school buildings and built a new elementary school, along with a new performing arts center and football stadium thanks to an approved a bond referendum a few years back.
If this special vote passes Tuesday they hope to break ground in approximately one year from now and have it complete by August 2022. For more information about NPECC click here.
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