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Bond Questions - 2017

 

Answering Questions about the Proposed School Bond

The Board of Trustees for the Emmett Independent School District has placed on the ballot for March 13 a 20.4 million dollar school bond. Over the past few years, and especially now with this proposed bond, our community continues to ask questions about what to do with our school buildings. There are those that want the district to do more. Others want a new high school and would be happy to raise their taxes to pay for a new school. There are those that feel that the items in the bond are extravagant and that our students and schools can get by with less.  It is an important discussion and there are good points on all sides of the debate.

One question that is being asked is: “If we pass this bond does that mean we cannot do anything else for 20 years?” The simple answer is no. The complete answer is that it depends on many factors. First, is the will of the voters. In Idaho it takes a 2/3 supermajority to pass a bond to build schools. Second, is the need for classroom space. Districts that are growing have to build new schools to accommodate growth. Middleton opened their new high school in 2011 after seeing about 1,000 new students in the 11 years before they opened their new high school. At this point, Gem County has seen a decline in enrollments unlike the districts “over the hill.” Following is a look at the enrollment changes for a few school districts in our area:

                          Number of Students        Number of Students

District             2000-01School Year       2017-18 School Year

West ADA                23,946                              39,339

Vallivue                      5,598                                9,142 

Emmett                       3,018                                2,566 

Kuna                           2,951                                5,404

Middleton                   2,196                                4,031

From State Department of Education, Historical Fall Enrollment

The question for Gem County voters is what to do now. We have schools with enough space, however they need repairs. As the facilities committee toured the schools this fall, it was clear to them that repairs were our first priority. They did not give up on the idea of building a new school, just the timing. If we start to grow this could happen sooner rather than later.

The committee’s first priority was the remodel of the middle school where more than half of the bond will be used. The second priority was repairs to the high school. Infrastructure changes (such as upgrading electrical, plumbing, and heating services as well as adding air conditioning at the middle school are costly and not likely to become cheaper in the future. A critical component at these two schools is building new entrances so that we can better secure who enters our schools. 

The proposed bond will help preserve the community’s investment in our schools. If you would like to learn more visit the Website at www.emmettschools.org (click on “Bond/Levy” on the top gray bar) or contact me, Wayne Rush, Superintendent at wrush@isd221.net or 208-365-6301.

We will also be holding a question and answer session on Monday, February 26.  We will start with a tour of the High School at 6:00 p.m. with the Q & A session starting at the Middle School at 6:30 p.m. The architects from Design West, who provided the estimates for the bond, will be at the meeting to help answer questions.

Wayne Rush