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Urbandale School Leaders Took Different Approach to Get Levy Passed

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URBANDALE, Iowa -- Voters in Urbandale approved increasing the Physical Plant and Equipment Levy, or PPEL.

Of those that voted, 84 percent said “yes” to the levy that will raise as much as $14.5 million over the next ten years. The money will go towards refurbishing and updating the city’s five elementary schools and will allow students to stay at the same school kindergarten through 5th grade.

District Superintendent, Doug Stilwell, says the majority of the district’s elementary schools were built in the 50’s and 60’s then remodeled in the early 90’s. He estimates each grade school has around $3 million worth of improvements.

The PPEL issue was finally approved by voters Tuesday night after failing three other times in the past. Stilwell, says in order to get the votes the district had to take a different approach.

“We were more specific in our planning this time. Our last plan that was out there was pretty general but we’ve been pretty specific about which schools were going to work on an improve.”

Karen Acres second grade teacher, Aaron Nikkel, is most excited about the safety improvements which will be made to the front office and the “collaboration” space designed for teachers and students who need extra help.

“I've always said a community is as strong as their school system. If our schools are falling apart or we have some days were kids are wearing their coat because its so cold in there, we need a place where the kids feel safe and comfortable.”

Stilwell says the improvements will not cause resident taxes to increase due to the district refinancing it’s debt. School leaders will meet in the coming weeks to begin planning the school’s renovating. Stilwill plans for crews to begin work on the schools by late – summer.