RUPERT — The Minidoka County School District will ask voters to approve a $21 million general obligation bond in March to add classrooms at some schools, build a new agriculture building at the high school and make improvements at schools throughout the district.
“If the bond is approved it will provide us with the ability to expand in the future,” District Superintendent Ken Cox said. “We are at capacity now at many of our buildings.”
The board approved a resolution for a bond election on March 12 during a Monday meeting.
“We feel like this is very important for our district and it is really needed to move forward,” Rick Stimpson, district board vice chairman, said.
The estimated average annual cost to taxpayers is $98 per $100,000 of assessed property value over the life of the bond and $50 per $100,000 over current taxes and the bond will be for a 20-year term.
“The biggest issue this will address is the overcrowding at our elementary schools,” Stimpson said.
The bond will be used to construct and equip six classrooms each at Heyburn and Paul elementary schools and West Minico Middle School.
Heyburn elementary will also get a second gym.
The money will upgrade or replace heating and air conditioning systems at Paul and Rupert elementary schools and Mt. Harrison Jr./Sr. High School.
It will buy land, build and equip an agriculture education building, install a new gym floor and concessions and restrooms at the softball and tennis facilities and upgrade existing spaces for career and technical education at Minico High School.
The bond will also be used to improve security throughout the district.
Stimpson said the second gym at Heyburn will alleviate the overcrowding caused by the school sharing a gym — where physical education classes are held — with the lunchroom.
“The gym is split in two and there is just not enough room in there,” Stimpson said. “The gym will not be extravagant. It will just be an elementary school gym. But it will allow the school to be more flexible with lunch hours.”
The district held eight town hall meetings for public input prior to making the decision to move forward with a bond election.
“As a board, we have tried to be very transparent and get the best information that we could out to the public,” Stimpson said.
Cox said the district and the board were conservative in the amount the district will ask voters to approve. The project list that was developed was adjusted to meet the budget and a good contingency fund was built into it to provide a buffer for rising construction costs.
Depending on how the bids for the projects come in other projects left off the list may be accomplished, Cox said.
“We could get by with what we have,” Cox said. “But, we shouldn’t be getting by when we have the opportunity to improve.”
The board is aware of needs in the district that will not be met by the bond, Stimpson said.
“We just don’t feel like we can ask for more money at this time,” he said.
By 2026 the district’s two other bonds will be paid off and the district will be able to ask taxpayers for more money without raising taxes, he said.
The district eventually will have to add another elementary school, Stimpson said.
Both Heyburn and Acequia elementary schools were built to accommodate building expansion, and Heyburn was at capacity when it opened. Acequia, Stimpson said, still has some room for growth.
The board may also take another look at the boundaries between Paul and Heyburn in the future to help alleviate expected growth in Heyburn, he said.