DES MOINES, Iowa -- Following the announcement of a new athletic stadium from Des Moines Public Schools and Drake University on Wednesday, many parents say they are not quite on board with the multi-million dollar project.
The new stadium would be built on Drake's campus and cost about $19 million. It would serve both football and soccer programs for DMPS students in middle school and high school as well as Drake's teams.
Des Moines parent Tanya Keith said as a major soccer fan and mother of athletes, she loves seeing the growth of the sport in Des Moines. But she is not sure this is how money should be spent right now.
“With my daughter having two open blocks in her education, that’s a problem. There’s a lot of kids that can’t get a full schedule of classes because of budget cutbacks, and I just wonder how we have money for this, but we don’t have money to get full schedules for kids in their upperclassmen years of high school,” Keith said.
Another Des Moines parent said she has also witnessed the effects of these budget cuts and feels priorities of the district need to change.
“I think we need to focus on our middle school programs. We’ve cut athletics in our middle school programs to where there are no activities for sixth and seventh graders compared to what there were several years ago. There’s no beginning band in a lot of these middle schools,” Des Moines parent Kari Warren said.
Iowa Senator Claire Celsi says she has heard from both teachers and parents on the issue who say they were blindsided by this project and there should have been more public input before this was made to seem like a done deal.
“There are two different pots of money. One is for facilities. One is for schools. But if you had had that public input and the chance to get people together and explain the different pots of money, that’s one fear maybe that could’ve been quelled a little bit. That’s why I’m just suggesting that more public input is needed. More back-and-forth dialogue is needed,” Celsi said.
Keith said she is also wondering about the current athletic facilities that desperately need to be fixed, even if they are only used for practice.
“We are still going to have to maintain those fields as practice fields, but then you’re also going to have this huge financial outlay at Drake. I just want more information before being excited about something that honestly I want to be excited about,” Keith said.
Now it is up to the Des Moines School Board to make a decision. There is a public hearing in December regarding funding for the major project.