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Now that the D91 $250M bond failed, what’s next?

Education

IDAHO FALLS — After Idaho Falls School District 91 school bond for $250 million failed to pass last week in the November election, the School Board is hoping to come up with solutions to address overcrowding, safety and security issues.

It was the highest bond District 91 has ever asked for the public to approve. The bond was meant for a new high school, two new elementary schools, and a renovation of Skyline High School.

“I was disappointed. I thought we could win. We had a lot of momentum going into it,” said Paul Haacke, a Board of Trustees member.

RELATED | District-wide issues prompt D91 to propose $250M bond. Here’s what supporters and detractors have to say about it

In the latest election, 58% of voters said yes, while 42% of voters said no. Because it was a bond issue, under Idaho law, the school district needed a supermajority of 66.67 percent of the vote to pass.

RELATED | General Election 2022 results

“We failed in not meeting the supermajority, which is required by the Legislature. It failed obtaining the supermajority, but the majority of our patrons in District 91 want this initiative. They want additional schools. They want additional elementary schools. They recognize the overcrowding and the safety issues,” Haacke said.

D91 proposed two other bonds in the past, including one for $110 million in 2017. The bond would have paid for the construction of a new high school and the redesign of Skyline High School. The proposal received 58% of the votes and did not pass.

RELATED | District 91 school bond for $250 million fails to pass

Then, the other bond was proposed in 2018 for $99.5 million. That bond would have paid for a new Idaho Falls High School, extensive upgrades to Skyline High School, and a project to transform the existing Idaho Falls High School into a career-technical school. It too received 58% and did not pass.

In an email to parents and staff last week after the election, D91 Superintendent Dr. Jim Shank wrote, “Although I am disappointed with the result, I have great respect for the parents and patrons of our district.”

Shank said the district would analyze the facilities options available and seek to address the community’s growth.

“As we look ahead, we will again turn to you for your input on how best to move forward, on what is needed, and how to engage the D91 community for the benefit of the 10,300 students we serve,” Shank said in the email.

In October, the Board of Trustees had been starting to consider ways to address issues if the bond failed, with ideas including year-round school and split sessions.

Haacke said they would go back to the drawing board to try and figure out what the best solution is because overcrowding and safety problems are not going away.

“We had a social media scare .. .a posting at Skyline High School last week, where the school was in lockdown. This is a school that has 88 points of entry,” Haacke said.

RELATED | Skyline High School goes into lockdown after student posts threatening meme

Skyline High School has a list of renovations to be done, along with other schools that are in need.

The board will hold a public meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 16, at the Idaho Falls High School library. In the agenda, the five board members will address split sessions and boundary changes.

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