HASTINGS, Iowa. (KMTV) — To keep students in Southwest Iowa, where they can make a good living, raise families and buy homes — East Mills Superintendent Tim Hood is building a vision: a $22 million bond referendum that will potentially fund a pre-K through 12th-grade building in Malvern. The current elementary school would turn into a Career and Technical Education Center.
"What are you going to do with the elementary building that sits here on the highway? That's when we started having conversations about, we need a viable option for this facility. This facility is 73,000 square feet, it sits on approximately 25 acres right on Highway 34," Hood said. "We knew the building needed to be used in some educational fashion."
Hood says breathing new life into the trades seemed like the perfect option.
"We are proposing a regional center for career and technical education," he explained.
Partners like the Charles E. Lakin Foundation will help fund the center.
"Within a lot of the Southwest Iowa communities, the communities are shrinking. Unfortunately, the youth as they graduate high school, they want to move on to something different. They go away to college and they just don't come back, and to really keep those towns running we do need to make sure we've got a lot of those trades staying within there," Operations and Grant Manager Jennifer Green said.
Professions like electricians, HVAC, plumbing and agricultural technology will potentially be offered. Hood says these are all ways to build on a future for this tight-knit community.
"We have people that tell us that it's hard to come to East Mills when our facilities are not updated as everyone around us, this will allow us to have a level playing field moving forward," Hood said.
The superintendent says if the vote passes on Sept. 14, he will start reaching out to different businesses and collaborate on the Center for Technical Education.