School numbers are up

Student Shyanne Brethawer works on her math with her desk slid up against the whiteboard during her fifth-grade class April 26, 2018, at Heyburn Elementary School.

RUPERT — The Minidoka County School District’s board of trustees announced Thursday it will ask voters again on May 21 to pass a $21 million general obligation bond after the district’s first attempt failed in March.

With less than 54% of voters saying yes, the district’s same bond request failed to meet the needed supermajority of 66.67% approval on March 12.

“We heard a lot of feedback after the bond failed that people thought the bond was going to pass anyway so there was no need for them to go out and vote,” District Superintendent Ken Cox said.

The bond will be used to add and equip six classrooms each at Heyburn and Paul elementary schools and at West Minico Middle School to alleviate overcrowding at those schools, build a new agriculture building at the high school and make improvements at schools throughout the district.

Heyburn Elementary will also get a second gym. The school’s gym is now used as a lunchroom, physical education room and an auditorium.

The bond will be used to upgrade or replace heating and air conditioning systems at Rupert and Paul elementary schools and at Mt. Harrison Jr./Sr. High School.

The bond will buy land, build and equip a new agriculture building, install a gym floor and concessions and restrooms at the softball and tennis facilities and upgrade career and technical education spaces at Minico High School. It will also be used to improve security throughout the district.

Board Chairwoman Bonnie Heins wrote in a letter to patrons that the bond contained “no blue sky.”

The letter was signed by all of the board members.

“Top among our concerns, particularly in this day and age is the safety and security of our children while in our schools,” Heins wrote. “Many building security upgrades are addressed in the bond will help with this concern.”

Cox said the district currently has $20 million in existing bonds that will be completely paid off in 2029.

The requested bond will increase property taxes $25 per year on a home assessed at $100,000 with a homeowner’s exemption.

Cox said patrons can go to the district website for more information on the bond and the projects.

The district’s board is also in the process of evaluating a proposal to move boundary lines between Heyburn and Paul elementary schools to shift 25 students from Heyburn to Paul to help with overcrowding at Heyburn.

The residential growth in Heyburn is evident along with the growth in other parts of the school district, he said, and the district has to plan for it. The district is not asking for items not included on the needs list.

“We are committed to being as fiscally responsible as possible in using all available resources and to not just ‘band aid’ our schools,” Heins wrote.

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