Jefferson School District seeking $75M and $5M bonds to build middle school, gymnasiumPublished at | Updated at
RIGBY — A local school district is asking the public to fund a new middle school, elementary school gymnasium, and a variety of other projects as part of two multimillion dollar bond proposals.
On the ballot, Jefferson Joint School District 251 is proposing two separate bonds, and either bond could pass without the other.
The first item on the ballot asks for $75 million. It would build a new middle school for approximately 1,000 students. Students from the current Rigby Middle School would be relocated to this new facility. It would be built on property owned by the district located at 200 North and 4100 East.
The money would additionally go towards remodeling Rigby Middle School into something new.
“Right now, our biggest concern is our high school. It was built for around 1,700 students and we’ve got about 2,100 students in there. We know next year, we are going to have 100 students more just by bringing in a bigger freshman class,” said Chad Martin, superintendent of Jefferson Joint School District 251. “So why a middle school?”
Martin explained the existing middle school would provide room for career and technical education opportunities. There will be hands-on learning for students and a variety of classes offered in the fields of medical, dental, cybersecurity, technology and firefighting.
The remodeled building would also provide additional classroom space for Rigby High School.
“Really, we are building a middle school to increase capacity at the high school, but we feel that meets our student’s needs better with the demand for career technical education programs. It’s like a win, win. We can meet the need…without spending the $130 million that it costs to build a high school right now,” Martin said.
There would also be classroom additions at Farnsworth Middle School as part of the $75 million.
The second item on the ballot is a $5 million bond for Roberts Elementary School. The school is the only elementary school in the district without a gym. The project will include a new full-size gymnasium, and there will be facility upgrades to the existing school.
“We need more space out there, and also with the community there, any kids that want to play recreational basketball or volleyball have to travel all the way to Rigby, so a lot of kids really don’t do that,” Martin explained. “So we think it will create opportunities for kids in the community as well.”
So how much will this cost? For the $75 million bond, the estimated average annual cost to the taxpayer on the proposed bond levy is a tax of $156 per $100,000 of taxable assessed value, per year, based on current conditions. For the $5 million, the estimated average annual cost to the taxpayer on the proposed bond levy is a tax of $10 per $100,000 of taxable assessed value, per year, based on current conditions.
However, district officials stress there will be minimal impact on the current levy rate for taxpayers. In Sept. 2022, the district extended the amount of time they were paying its current bonds, which dropped the overall levy rate from $424 per $100,000 of taxable value last year to $327 per $100,000 of taxable value this year.
As a result, the district would be able to pay for the new bonds without raising the current amount being collected from taxpayers annually. Click here for more information.
The school district proposed a similar bond last year in March, but it did not pass. That bond was for $80 million. The bond measure was sought by the district to build a new middle school, remodel Rigby Middle School into a career technical center, build a new gym at Roberts Elementary, add additional classrooms to Farnsworth Middle School, renovate other schools and acquire land for future schools.
RELATED | $80M bond fails in Jefferson School District; $25.5M bond narrowly passes in Madison
Martin said this past year has been spent meeting with groups of people who were specifically against the bond, putting committees together, and diving into what the needs are for the students and what the community can support.
“We feel like this is a plan that will work to meet both needs,” Martin said.
The bond election will take place on March 14. To pass, both bonds on the ballot need a 66.67% voter approval.