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Jefferson School District 251 asks for voters approval on $80 million bond

RIGBY, Idaho (KIFI) - On March 14, Jefferson School District 251 voters will help decide the future of the district. Voters will be deciding on a $80 million bond. The bond will consist of two separate items that voters will see on the ballot.

The first item will be for $75 million to build a new middle school on district property at 200 N and 4100 E.

"The biggest portion of the bond is building a new middle school. And so we would be building a new middle school on the east side of the town. We have the property there and moving those students there and then creating space to be able to improve that (current) building into a career technical education center. And so it meets both needs. One, it creates more space that we need for the high school, but it also creates those opportunities for CTE, opportunities for students. And we move those students to a new middle school," Superintendent Chad Martin said.

As the money is broken up, $63 million of the $75 million is to help build the new school on district property.

Martin says the old Rigby Middle School next to the high school will become a new career technical education center as the district hopes to continue to provide more education opportunities will help set up their students for life.

"Career technical education has become such a big part of what we do because our goal is to create opportunities for kids to be prepared after high school. That may mean college, that may mean right to the workforce. That may be anything. A number of things. And so we want our our students to be prepared for that. And career technical education gives them that opportunity if they want to go into on to college and to medical schools or things like that. This is a great opportunity for them to get real world experience in that if they want to go on to other trades or professions, same thing, we can provide them with opportunities to learn and internships."

Martin adds the hope is to help students, "hit the ground running."

$5 million of the bond will help remodel the old middle school building to a new Career Technical Education center.

$7 million of the bond will also help upgrade Farnsworth Middle School.

Martin says the district hopes with the new bond the taxes won't be rising.

"When we saw sharp increases in property values, our patrons saw sharp increases in taxes. But we've changed the way that we collect those taxes. And rather than that being a percentage of their assessed value of their property or their taxable value, it's an amount that we need to collect. We know how much we need to collect for the existing bonds and this bond. And so as our community grows, that number actually that tax taxable burden on each individual will go down because we have more people paying into that."

He adds as the needs if the community continue to grow and the schools continue to get more and more crowded, it may hurt the taxpayers later down the road but is hopeful that this bond will pass.

"If this didn't pass within a couple of years, they would see that number go down. But we'd still have the same needs we have now and increase needs. So we do I feel very comfortable and confident that the board has taken all steps possible to relieve that tax burden as much as possible, while also providing for the needs of our students and our community."

Martin emphasized tht the new bond shouldn't raise taxes too much more.

"We had a bond fall off in September for South Fork Elementary School. Adding this to that because the way it's wrapped around it won't increase taxes at all. Because we can structure the payments on this to pay smaller now and then as our existing bonds for the high school and Cottonwood Elementary fall off, we can make bigger payments. And so it does obviously extend that out time wise. But as far as what you're paying annually, it won't increase that."

The remaining $5 million takes up the second item on the bond and is to upgrade Roberts Elementary school and build them a new gymnasium.

"Roberts is the only school that we have without a gymnasium," Martin said.

He adds if the gymnasium is built, it can become a community space when school is not in session.

"We have lunchroom, multipurpose room, P.E. room its all the same thing. And right now they don't have the capacity to be able to have the concerts for parents to come in like our schools have or the community use. All of our gyms are used by the community for basketball, soccer, volleyball, all of these things. And the Roberts community doesn't have that. So we feel like it would be helpful for the community as obviously."

The bond will come to vote on March 14. For more information on the bond you can find it here.

Article Topic Follows: Education

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Braydon Wilson

Braydon is a reporter for Local News 8 and Eyewitness News 3.


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