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Indian Hills Community College announces plans for major campus renovations, working towards low bond referendum

Published: Apr. 26, 2021 at 11:00 PM CDT
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OTTUMWA, Iowa (KYOU) - After hearing from communities across its 10 county region, Indian Hills Community College held a press conference Monday to reveal five improvements to their campuses.

First, a renovated fine arts wing for the Arts and Science center to replace the current, outdated hallways. Jennifer Boyenga, program director of fine arts, dates the buildings back to the 1950s. “After 60 years, it’s tired,” she said at Monday’s press conference.

Second, an expansion for the Tom Arnold Net Center. This expansion was spawned from critique from talking with communities in Indian Hill’s region. Dr. Brett Monaghan, Vice President of Student Development & Operations says “one thing we continually heard from everybody...is ‘we need more to do on this campus.’” The expansion would focus on physical and mental health. It would add an entire wing to the Tom Arnold Net Center, including classrooms for physical therapy, a gym, and amenities for working out.

Third, a new criminal justice training center. Currently, the program only sits in two classrooms on the Ottumwa campus. The new facility is set to move over to Indian Hill’s North Campus. There, the college hopes, it will have enough room for realistic and VR training simulation. The program will attempt to show students a plethora of scenarios so they will be better prepared for life as a police officer or sheriff. The facility will also serve as training for reserve officers, a first for the college.

And down at Indian Hills’ Centerville campus, they hope to build a large academic building to replace the small modular structures built in the 70s. Dr. Jill Budde, Vice President of Learning & Engagement says “a new academic building will lends itself to new learning spaces for all areas of instruction.” The building would be able to expand enrollment in nursing, welding, commercial driving, and more for the Centerville campus. Indian Hills Administration stressed how inconvenient it is for students to have to hop from module to module by going outside, instead of all the classrooms being concentrated in one building.

Finally, the college wants to expand virtual learning accessibility, so that more high school students can take Indian Hills classes through concurrent enrollment. The college boasted $5,000,000 worth of classes taken by high school students, and they hope to increase that number with added accessibility.

All in all, these projects cost a projected total of $34.7 million. And while Indian Hills is looking at a bond referendum for these projects, they want to ask taxpayers for as little as possible. Dr. Matt Thompson, the President of the College, says “I do not believe that we can pass a referendum of over $30 million.” Instead, the college will be running a grassroots campaign to raise money through means like donations and grants, and to get the word out about these new projects. By the time the referendum lands on November’s ballot, the college wants to get that cost down as much as possible.

If passed, they want to start construction by mid-2022.

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