One bond passed and another failed; what's next for Jefferson School District? - East Idaho News

One bond passed and another failed; what’s next for Jefferson School District?

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RIGBY — Tuesday’s election didn’t go exactly the way Jefferson School District 251 officials hoped.

The district had proposed two separate bond issues for voters’ consideration.

One was for $75 million and was meant to fund the construction of a new middle school, remodel the existing Rigby Middle School and add classroom space to Farnsworth Middle School.

The other $5 million bond would be for Roberts Elementary School. The project includes a new full-size gymnasium and facility upgrades to the existing school building.

The smaller bond passed, while the larger one failed, with 67% and 58% voter approval, respectively. In Idaho, school bonds must pass with a 66.7% supermajority.

RELATED | Little bond passes, big bond fails in Jefferson School District 251

“We are obviously disappointed,” Jefferson School District Superintendent Chad Martin told “It was a hard thing for us to swallow.”

“We are heartened that 58 percent of our voters supported the bond,” Martin said, expressing gratitude to those in the community who showed up and voted.

According to an audit conducted by the Idaho Legislature in January 2022, “Idaho spends the least on school buildings annually compared to neighboring states.”

“The current two-thirds vote threshold poses a significant barrier to bond approval,” the audit found.

The way forward for District 251 is not clear. Martin admitted he just doesn’t know what’s next. However, he did note that district officials will have some tough decisions to make in the future.

“We are going to have to have some hard conversations,” he said. “We are 500 students over capacity at the high school right now. How can we continue putting students there?”

The school board will meet after spring break and begin those conversations.

As for the smaller bond, Martin is grateful it passed. He looks forward to breaking ground on the new gymnasium at Roberts Elementary School this summer.