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Civic Skinny

Median home sale price reaches record high. Des Moines parks score well. Iowa education is a concern. Another firearm found at DM airport. Prenuptual agreements.

7/3/2024

Des Moines’ Parks and Recreation system was ranked among the top 20 in the country, according to the Trust for Public Land’s (TPL) 2023 ParkScore, which compares 100 of the largest cities in the United States. Des Moines Parks and Recreation’s score improved by three points from 2023 to 2024, from 62.1 to 65.6. 

Five subjects are involved in the criteria. Equity compares per capita park space and 10-minute walk park access in communities of color vs. white communities and low-income neighborhoods vs. high-income neighborhoods. Park systems score higher if disparities are low or nonexistent. Access measures the percentage of residents living within a 10-minute walk of a park. Acreage is based on a city’s median park size and the percentage of city area dedicated to parks. Investment measures park spending per resident. Amenities assesses the availability of six popular park features: basketball hoops, off-leash dog parks, playgrounds, splash pads and other water play structures, recreation and senior centers, and restrooms.

This increase in score came in part from a renewed and expanded partnership with the Des Moines School District to provide access to the school’s park amenities and park grounds in areas of needed park access within Des Moines. …

A recent study by Preply, an online language learning company, found that Iowa is the sixth most disciplined state with a score of 7.7 out of 10. The study surveyed residents on 16 areas of life related to discipline. For Iowans, they found 83% of residents say having a structured life is required to be successful, 73% are punctual with work and deadlines, 71% are disciplined with their hygiene, and 55% are disciplined with financial management. Nationally, Preply found that hygiene, work punctuality and deadlines, and financial management were the three most important areas of discipline in U.S. residents’ lives. The most disciplined state was Pennsylvania, which scored 9.5, and the state with the lowest score was California with 3.1 …

Des Moines Public Schools (DMPS) ranked fifth in data breaches affecting educational institutions in 2023, according to CyberNut, a cybersecurity solutions company. The data breach DMPS experienced in 2023 is the main cause of the ranking, stating that it affected 31,720 students. School officials were unable to determine what type of ransomware was used for the cyber-attack. The school systems ahead of DMPS in the study were the Georgia Institute of Technology, Tucson Unified School District, Jefferson County Schools and Minneapolis Public Schools. CyberNut’s website says 1,619 K-12 schools experienced data breaches with 90% originating from faculty or staff clicking on phishing links. …

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Medical tourism, often associated with traveling to Turkey for a hairline transplant or a new set of veneers, has a few new hotspots with Iowa among them. According to a study by Nursa, a nursing staffing company, Iowa is becoming a medical tourism favorite for its focus on “affordability and high-standard healthcare.” Iowa’s medical institutions are attracting patients for procedures such as knee replacements and preventative screenings, according to the study. As for what might be driving the increase, Nursa cites cost efficiency, quality care, recreational recovery and accessibility. Two other states from the survey that made for unlikely medical tourism destinations were Montana and Nebraska. …

According to 2022 Gallup data, Iowans are above the national average in terms of those 15 and older who have been married at least once. That might have something to do with Iowa’s nation-leading prenup rate. TurboDebt, a debt consulting company, surveyed thousands of couples and found that 17% of Iowans have a formal prenuptial agreement in place. The national average is 13%. Similarly, the survey found that 32% of unmarried people believe prenups are a “recipe for disaster” for a marriage. …

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) prevented a handgun from making its way onto an airplane at the Des Moines International Airport on June 5. This is the eighth firearm found at the checkpoint in Des Moines in 2024, already surpassing the total of seven that were detected in Des Moines last year. TSA reported that the firearm was loaded with 14 rounds, none in the chamber. …

The Des Moines Area Association of Realtors released its information on the Metro area’s housing market stats for May of this year. They reported that home sales in May saw a 19.95% increase from April and a 7.95% increase from May of 2023. Active listings continued to rise this year. DMAAR saw an increase of 5.77% with 3,279 houses listed on the market. This is also an increase from May of last year, with the year-over-year increase at 23.69%. The $299,500 median sale price was a record high in the Des Moines Metro. This is a 6.02% increase from April and a 3.63% increase from this time last year. …

The Annie E. Casey Foundation released its 2024 Kids Count Data Book showing state trends in children’s well-being. Rankings were based on economic well-being, education, health and family and community. The composite score saw Iowa rank seventh in the nation, with New Hampshire first and Arizona last. This is a slight drop from Iowa’s sixth-place ranking in the 2023 report. However, the big drop comes in education. In the 2023 report, Iowa ranked ninth in education. For 2024, Iowa dropped four spots to 13th and found that 67% of fourth graders are not proficient in reading and 72% of eighth graders are not proficient in math. 

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