Kirkwood Community College plans to open three education centers for high school and college students in eastern Iowa if voters agree to extend a property tax that supports the district.
The two-year school, which has a main campus in Cedar Rapids, wants to open centers on the University of Iowa Oakdale Research Campus, in Washington and in the Marion/Hiawatha area, the Iowa City Press-Citizen reported Tuesday.
The University of Iowa has agreed to provide space on its Oakdale Campus, said Kirkwood President Mick Starcevich.
“We think it will be the first time in the nation where a four-year college will allow a community college to locate on its campus,” he said.
The Oakdale center would house programs for K-12 and college students, and 11 local high schools have expressed an interest in sending students, Starcevich said.
The plans are contingent on the approval of a bond referendum during a Sept. 13 election that would raise $46.5 million for Kirkwood. Voters in seven eastern Iowa counties will cast ballots.
If approved, the plan would extend a current bond issue approved in 2005 from its current expiration date of 2015 until 2030.
Property owners would continue to pay 20 cents on every $1,000 of valuation.
Kirkwood already operates one education center in Monticello, where about 140 high school students take college-level courses each day, Starcevich said.
The Oakdale center likely would offer everything from auto-tech classes to certified nurse assistant training, and classes in writing, math and social sciences. The new facility could take some strain off the crowded Kirkwood campus. Starcevich said Kirkwood and the University of Iowa have a strong partnership. He said more than half of the community college students who transfer to Iowa come from Kirkwood.
Starcevich said by pooling resources, Kirkwood and area high schools can offer more courses for less money.
Iowa City West High Principal Jerry Arganbright, who toured the Monticello center, said he’s confident a similar setup would benefit area students.
“Many of these are programs we’d like to offer our kids but are just too expensive,” he said.
Another Iowa City principal, John Bacon of City High, agreed.
“For some of these programs like auto shop or high-tech-type activities that are expensive to run, it makes sense to consolidate. Students would get to utilize high-powered equipment and get a sense of what it’d be like out in the real world to access that equipment,” Bacon said.
Starcevich said that more than 4,800 students from the 11 local high school schools took the equivalent of $2.4 million in Kirkwood courses last year and received more than 20,500 credit hours. The high schools involved were West, City, Solon, Clear Creek Amana, Tipton, West Branch, West Liberty, Community College, Lisbon, Highland and Mount Vernon.