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Questions regarding the school bond are answered

SHELLEY:  Community Pioneer sat with Superintendent Chad Williams and asked him specific questions regarding the proposed high school bond. Here are his answers.

Why do we need to bond for a new high school now?

“If you look at our current buildings, based on occupancy, in my opinion, we need to build a new school to avoid running out of classrooms. We put a building committee together in October 2020 to discuss ways that we could handle growth. They looked at adding on to the high school and other schools. But they kept coming back to the idea of a new high school. The reason is that the existing high school was added on to 20 years ago with additional classrooms and an auxiliary gym,” Superintendant Chad Williams said. “The core area of the existing high school and middle school are too small to handle additions.”

Why not build a campus-type facility at the high school with multiple buildings?

“It would possibly work. But the building committee didn’t like the idea. Because if we build on the high school, we’d also have to address overcrowding at the middle school. All of our buildings are full. So we need to build a school. We could build a middle school and add on to the high school, but when we crunched the numbers, the cost was comparable to just building a new high school,” William said. “I’m not so hung up on the new high school as I am capacity. If we don’t build another school, we will have to add onto multiple buildings in the school district. Most of those schools have core areas [lunchrooms, gymnasiums, and libraries] that are currently maxed out.”

What pressure points in the school district will a new high school eliminate?

“So it’s going to eliminate pressure points districtwide. The new high school will be 9 through 12, the current high school will become the middle school serving 7 through 8, and Goodsell will be kept as a kindergartner center as long as possible. All of the other buildings would be elementary schools, including Hobbs. At some point, we will have to decide if we will have four 1 through 6th-grade schools or a couple of 1 through 3rd-grade schools and a couple of 4 through 6th-grade schools,” Williams said.

So, how big will the new high school be?

“The building committee has visited several schools with the same template or design. Because we are building a school similar to these schools, it will save us several million dollars in design fees. These schools are built for around 1700 students. However, because of our bond capacity limitations, our school will be built to handle 1000 students. In contrast, the current high school holds 650 students,” Williams said. “Our 10-year growth rate is 1.65%. Using a 2% growth rate for projections, if those projections hold true and if we build a high school, it will give the district enough classroom capacity until 2040.”

What will be included in the new high school?

“It will be built to a capacity of 1000 students and designed to add onto it easily. We will continue to use the football field and Ag building. Based on the exorbitant per-square-foot cost of an auditorium, the new high school will have a 600-seat auditorium. It will feature an additional music room and a scene-building shop for the Drama Department. The new high school also features a parking lot,” Williams said. “The new high school will be turnkey, meaning all fixtures and furnishings, including lab fixtures, desks, equipment, and computers, are part of the school’s price tag.”

How much will the new high school bond cost?

According to the Shelley School Districts Bond Flyer, the total cost estimated to be repaid over the life of the bond, based on the anticipated interest rate, is $65,748,000, consisting of $67,800,000 in principal and $31,108,250 of interest, less $33,240,250 in bond levy equalization payments. The State legislature recently passed a law allowing school districts to receive a certain percentage back on the interest payments, which includes all of the interest plus $2 million of the principal of the proposed bond.

How much will the new high school bond cost each taxpayer?

The easiest way to calculate how much the new school will cost you is to go to the Bingham County – interactive GIS Mapping. (Click here to enter.)

Once you’re in the program, click “I agree to the terms and conditions” and ” Okay”. Then add your last name followed by your first name without a comma in between.

Click on your name.

The map will then zoom in on your property that you own. Right-click the property.

Then, scroll down in the highlighted box to the Tax Value.

(Above it will be a figure known as Market Value. If you have a home, the tax value figure will be less than the market value figure. This difference is because of the homeowner’s exemption.)

Multiply the proposed mill bond levy of 0.00154 by the tax value to show how much the new high school bond will cost you in taxes.

If the new high school bond passes, how would the school district pay for the new school’s administration, librarian, kitchen staff, and janitorial service?

“It will come down to us having to staff Hobbs Elementary School. And I am going to fund that through student-increased enrollment. As student enrollment increases, we will receive more funding from the State. That funding will cover the cost of the new administration,” Williams said.

What happens if the bond doesn’t pass?

Continue to restrict new enrollment of students outside of the district. “Right now, we are not accepting new students except for the fourth grade,” Williams said.

Classroom aides could be hired to help teachers with larger classroom sizes.

New modular classrooms could be purchased. “It makes more sense to put modulars at the higher grade levels than with the younger children. I have more reservations about having first and second-graders in modular classrooms. The cost of modular classrooms is $304,000, including instillation,” Williams said.

We could hire a mobile teacher with a cart that could go from classroom to classroom. “So whichever teacher had a prep hour, we could end up having a class in that classroom,” Williams said.

Have one kindergarten class go to Stuart. “Stuart Elementary has the most open classrooms in all the schools,” Williams said.

What is the reason for building a new high school now?

“Once the bond passes, building a new school takes 3 ½ years. Based on our projections, by the fall of 2027, all of our buildings will be at capacity. But the real big reason is the construction cost is increasing faster than the overall market value within the district, which affects the bond capacity of the district. Therefore, the per square foot cost of the building would be such that we won’t be able to build tomorrow the same type and size of school we can today,” Williams said.

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