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What’s next for districts with failed bond, levy

On Tuesday’s election day, slightly less than $209 million in school bonds and levies were approved statewide. However, two that failed were Bonneville School District 93’s $92 million bond and Madison School District’s $2.5 million plant facility levy.

District 93 administrators said they were happy to see the biggest voter turnout ever for a school election in the district. They were disappointed to see the bond fail with only 44 percent in favor; it needed a two-thirds supermajority.

While the next step has not yet been defined, deputy superintendent Marjean McConnell says it’s an “information gathering phase.” That includes looking into why the $92 million bond for a new high school and new middle school failed.

“Were the issues really the length of the bond? Was it the amount of the tax? Was it the place of the building,” said McConnell.

There is the possibility of running another bond election in the future.

“Right now we are wide open to possibilities and suggestions,” said Scott Woolstenhulme, director of school improvements for D93.

If a future bond passes, a new school is at least four to five years away, according to Woolstenhulme. The district has grown by an average of 400 students per year for the last decade. Bonneville and Hillcrest High Schools are both already overcrowded by more than 150 students each. Temporary solutions may have to include more portable classrooms.

“We will look at year-round school. We will look at extended school days. We will look at split sessions,” said McConnell.

“Right now the State of Idaho don’t have any districts who do year-round school, so they don’t really have a process in place to fund us for that,” said Woolstenhulme.

Despite the district’s growth, this year’s eighth-grade class is slightly smaller than the current freshman class.

“After that the seventh-grade class is going to be much larger, so we have one year to get our heads together and figure out what we can do,” said Woolstenhulme.

During the fact-finding phase, D93 will look to examples of what to do next.

“We’re obviously not the only district in the nation. We will look at growing areas and see how they are doing, how they are using their buildings differently,” said McConnell.

The district will hold its scheduled school board meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday. It is open to the public.

Madison School District had a $2.5 million, 10-year plant facility levy on the ballot. With 54 percent in favor, it failed to capture the two-thirds supermajority needed to pass. The district’s business manager says they are “in a world of hurt without a levy.”

The plant facilities levy would have been used as a “pay-as-you-go” way to maintain buildings. It would have replaced the current levy that expires next year, but it was over a $1 million more per year.

“We need to regroup, think it through, and go from there. (I am) not sure quite the answer here, but we just got to come back and ask for money somehow. We will have to come back and redo the election somehow, but the question is how much and when,” said Varr Snedaker, business manager for Madison School District.

Around the state, another district did have success passing a multimillion-dollar bond. A $74 million bond for three new schools in Twin Falls School District passed. It needed two-thirds in favor to pass and it did by a little less than 1 percent.

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