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Time to shift focus to our top priorities

Time to shift focus to our top priorities

The Charles City School District is building a new bus barn behind the high school.

The School Board is looking for land to replace the ballfields at Sportsmen’s Park.

Floyd County bought land next to the courthouse in Charles City just in case it’s needed to build a new jail.

City and county officials have agreed on a study that is one step removed from preparing for a bond referendum for a new jail and joint law enforcement center.

Meanwhile, the school district is down another 18.56 students in its certified enrollment, which cumulatively is down about 76 students since the 2013-14 school year. Ouch!

important because it’s what determines state funding. Just in the last year, the district made more than $400,000 in operating budget cuts. We lost teaching, coaching and staff positions. We drained our competition pool and eliminated a girls sport, telling our swimmers to travel what has become an increasingly dangerous Avenue of the Saints to compete as Mason City Mohawks.

More cuts are coming. The Iowa Legislature could give our struggling district and many others in rural Iowa a hand, but recent history shows that with Republicans in complete control, no additional funding is coming.

are hoping an enrollment boost might accompany the opening of the Simply Essentials poultry plant in downtown Charles City.

That is not necessarily going to happen. As a local politico put it last week before the election, Charles City is Waverly’s industrial park. You can substitute any number of cities around here for “Waverly.” We have the jobs, but more and more workers appear content to commute 30 minutes or so to a job so their families can have the schools, recreation and any assortment of amenities they are finding lacking in Charles City.

A 30-minute commute is nothing for people who move to the area from a metropolitan area like the Twin Cities, where the commute includes a whole bunch of waiting in traffic.

Our shortcomings also are keeping our grown children from returning.

all down on paper has me thinking we very well might be going about this wrong. Our priorities appear to be driven by what we think we can do and not what we should do. Is there anyone out there that will argue that a new bus barn, a new jail and a law enforcement center will make our city any more attractive to the families we need? Do they really solve our most pressing issues? Not if the enrollment trend and most recent election are any indication.

Consultants have told our elected officials that there is enough support to get these done. The tail is wagging the dog.

should be our schools. The high school building is best avoided if you are showing a perspective resident around town. Our elementaries need upgrades as well. That is where the money and time being spent on a bus barn and possibly an althetic complex should go.

The City Council should take the althetic complex issue out of the school district’s hands. Cities don’t spend money to build schools, but they certainly do parks. Sportsmen’s Park needs fixing or replacing. City leaders should be on it, not the School Board, which should be focused on getting a bond referendum in place as soon as possible. Lending rates are still favorable. Don’t count on that continuing.

should shelve the law enforcement center until the school facility issue is solved. City Hall offices should move into the former middle school building, handing over the existing city hall to the police department.

Replacing the existing Floyd County Jail doesn’t solve what was noted as a top priority in the sheriff’s election: the severe lack of mental health facilities in Iowa that has our deputies traveling hours to get people in crisis the help they need. The county and the Floyd County Medical Center would best serve us by building the mental health facilities that are needed more than jail.

It’s time to seriously reconsider making out actions reflect our top priorities.

Contact Editor Chris Baldus at

Chris Baldus

Managing Editor