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Look for these school bonds on the ballot Tuesday

Education

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IDAHO FALLS — School districts in east Idaho want voters’ go-ahead to build new infrastructure. Some are saying they’ll be little to no tax levy increase. Take a look as some of the bonds that could be on your ballot this upcoming election day, Tuesday Aug. 27. They need a two-third supermajority to pass.

BONNEVILLE JOINT SCHOOL DISTRICT 93: $42.7 million

What started out as an estimate of $39.5 million bond for a new elementary school and upgrades to two high schools has increased by a couple million dollars.

“Once we selected construction managers and they started working through the actual designs with the architects and really started evaluating where construction costs were, that pushed the cost of those up to the $42.7 (million),” Bonneville Joint School District 93 Superintendent Scott Woolstenhulme says.

Here’s how it breaks down: $18.7 million would be needed for a new elementary school and $24 million for new classrooms and entrances for Hillcrest and Bonneville high schools.

Woolstenhulme says the upgrades to the high schools are vital because the number of students will continue to increase. Upgrades included eight new science classrooms, which will increase the schools’ capacity. He says with the core design of the building and the upgrade the school should accommodate a maximum of 1500 to 1600 student it’s current capacity is some 1250 students.

“Instead of putting kids in trailers … we want to do permanent classroom additions that will also improve the way that students move through the building,” Woolstenhulme says. “It made the most sense to build science classrooms because it’s so expensive to go back into the building and try and renovate existing science classrooms.”

In the future, the existing science classrooms can be repurposed as traditional classrooms.

The elementary school is set to have six to eight special-needs classrooms, which will make room for special-needs services throughout the district.

Woolstenhulme says the annual levy cost of $580 per $100,000 of taxable property value will not increase. He says $92 of the current cost would be reallocated to the new construction and projects.

“If that bond isn’t authorized, that $92 can only be used to pay existing bonds instead of for new bonds and new and new construction,” Woolstenhulme says.

He says now is the best time to do the bond because taxpayers wouldn’t have to worry about a levy increase. He says in the future the bond will cost more in construction dollars.

More information here.

SUGAR-SALEM: $17 million

The district is asking for a new junior high school.

“We’re growing — that’s the main reason,” Sugar-Salem Superintendent Chester Bradshaw says.

Bradshaw says the district is using portable classrooms at every school except its high school.

Last year, the junior high library and teachers’ lounge were repurposed into classrooms.

“We were using the library all day long as a classroom. We had two classrooms in there for part of the day,” Bradshaw says. “We say we’re over capacity because our library doesn’t exist anymore. It doesn’t function as a library.”

Bradshaw says that students can technically “fit” into the building, but there aren’t enough classrooms for them.

He says the building was built in 1954 and students still use the gym original to the building. Two classroom wings were added on back in the 1970s.

Bradshaw says if the bond passes, they will build the new school on 45 acres of land just donated adjacent to the city limits. The old building would be repurposed.

According to the Sugar-Salem website, a bigger junior high school would “give us flexibility to move the sixth grade to the junior high to alleviate growth at Kershaw Elementary School as well.”

There would be a slight levy increase of $62 from last year’s rate. The new tax rate in total would be $345 per $100,000 in assessed value. Bradshaw says this is still less than what patrons paid in recent years, which was $402 per $100,000 in assessed value.

“The reality is Sugar City is growing, all of eastern Idaho is growing, actually, and we anticipate that over the next few years that we might start growing exponentially. It’s hard to predict the future, but all the signs are in place,” Bradshaw says.

More information here.

ONEIDA COUNTY: $17.35

District officials are again seeking to replace Malad Elementary School and demolish the existing elementary school, Idaho Education News reports. They will also be tearing down its old high school. In March, a smaller, $14.85 million proposal fell short of the supermajority vote.

More information here.

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