After bouncing from gym to gym around the region, one northern Iowa school finally has its own gymnasium to call home. North Iowa Christian School (NICS), located in Mason City, Iowa, played its first basketball games on the new court on Friday.
As early as November, the students at NICS benefited from limited access to the gym while finishing work was completed, but Friday’s game was the first official event in the new facility. The games capped off an exciting homecoming week for the Eagles, including a special alumni vs. parents, teachers, and guests game. The festivities were years in the making as NICS began building their basketball program without a proper home gym six years ago.
First day to use our new gymnasium! We only have limited use as we still have some finishing work to do, but we are so…Posted by North Iowa Christian School on Monday, November 1, 2021
The fundraising efforts for the new building, which also includes locker rooms, bathrooms, offices, and a classroom, began three years ago. The school weathered fundraising challenges and construction delays due to the pandemic, making Friday’s games all the more fulfilling. In addition to donated funds, the school also received bleachers and a scoreboard. While some fundraising is still needed to finish the entire project, those involved with the school are grateful to have a space to call their own.
Athletic Director Steve Vandenburg said, “It is really exciting…It took a lot of effort on a lot of people’s part and now it is exciting to use it.” Vandenburg also told the Globe Gazette that he is thankful that his students would experience a true home-court atmosphere going forward. Before this, the school played games at the salvation army and another local public middle school gym while holding practices at the YMCA. “It is certainly a blessing for our players and coaches to have things right in the school,” he said. “The school enjoys coming to cheer them on and be active participants.”
As a small private school, construction projects like this are an extreme financial undertaking. Whereas public schools typically receive federal, state, and local government funds and raise money for constructions through bonds, private schools don’t usually receive any tax dollars for such projects. As a result, efforts like NICS’s new gymnasium project, which provides immense community benefit, must be paid for through donated funds.
In spite of the fundraising efforts necessary for private schools to exist, in nearly all fifty states, private school tuition per-pupil is significantly less than public school expenditures per student. For example, Iowa’s public school cost-per-pupil is $11,656, while private school tuition is just $5,268 per student.
Iowa does offer some school choice programs already. But if all parents were given the freedom to take funding for their children to any school of their choice, more funding could funnel into high-quality schools such as NICS. The school features an average 7 to 1 teacher-to-student ratio and students score higher than the top 10% in the Iowa Test of Basic Skills scores. If the public concern is quality education, schools such as NICS are certainly worth the investment.