We support the $172.5 million Boise School District bond because it is a wise investment now to deal with compelling district facility needs that are going to rise in cost if delayed. Some proposed new buildings have design improvements that will make them more adaptable and more secure — thus making them better suited and safer.
If you have children or grandchildren in the district you likely have observed some of the schools and properties are functional but getting long of tooth. District-wide some buildings are more than 100 years old and nearly half are more than 50 years old, but still used because of renovations. Amity Elementary, built in 1979, leaks so badly a bucket brigade is deployed each time it rains.
We appreciate the district underwent a facilities audit over the last two years that spells out $330 million in maintenance needs (in transparent fashion) for new buildings, refurbished buildings and necessary maintenance. The current bond — which will be on the March 14 ballot in Boise district polling places — asks for $172.5 million over 20 years.
Among the big ticket items: $13.8 million (each) rebuilds of Pierce Park, Whittier and Amity elementary schools; a new $13.8 million Harris Ranch elementary; a $12.8 million renovation at Timberline High School to add extra class space; and a $17.9 million upgrade of the Boise High School gymnasium that will also allow it to function as a performing arts space.
We like the fact the new and rebuilt elementary schools will relocate administrative offices at the entrances of the building — enhancing the security of these buildings. We know many of you will be glad to know some of the portable, detached trailer classrooms — which are also security problems — can be retired.
One of the selling points the district and its volunteer supporters tout is that passage of the bond will not raise your tax rate. That is true, because this bond, which some refer to as a “continuation bond,” would take the place of earlier bonds on your tax statement that retire as this one kicks in. But it does not necessarily mean your taxes won’t go up someday if the value of your home increases.
If the bond fails to get the necessary 66.7 percent of the vote, there is a possibility your taxes could decrease — though the district could opt (likely) to keep the money and apply it to other bonds until they are paid off.
When we asked about growth over the next 10 years district officials gave a forecast in a statement: “. . .The most aggressive prediction indicates that, as housing in the Syringa Valley development progresses, district enrollment will increase by over 3,000 and Timberline High School enrollment will increase by 500. . . A more realistic prediction is for district enrollment to increase more slowly in the next decade, and that Timberline will grow by about 300. In this scenario, the district’s purchase of land in Syringa Valley and the donation of an elementary site from the developer will have been fortuitous, and a bond for schools in South Boise would be a distinct possibility in the mid-2020’s.”
Anticipating future needs and sharing projections with residents is something the Boise district has always done well. We support this bond because we trust the district and its elected officials to continue to be good stewards of our tax dollars — and we certainly like the end education product that has kept Boise School District students at the top of Idaho schools in performance and preparation for college and life.
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Early Voting Begins Feb. 27
▪ Ada County Elections office, 400 N. Benjamin Lane Suite 100, Boise: Feb. 27-March 10, Monday-Friday, 7 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturday voting March 4, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
▪ Boise City Hall, 150 N. Capitol Blvd., Boise: Feb. 27-March 10, Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m.