SHOSHONE — After three failed bond attempts, the Shoshone School District is starting from scratch in looking at facility needs.
The district reconvened a facilities and safety committee that came up with the original recommendation for a $6 million bond. The group, which includes community members, met earlier this month for the first time since the March election.
“We thought we’d get everybody back together and basically start over,” Superintendent Rob Waite said Thursday.
Committee members are looking at the district’s 20-year facilities plan to see if those projects are still needed. If a ballot measure to pay for projects comes to voters, it won’t be until the March 2019 election, Waite said.
“The idea is to come up with a good plan for the facilities needs,” he said. “Then, we give the plan back to the school board and they decide the best way to ask for financing.”
Shoshone’s most recent attempt to pass a bond was in March. In total, 58 percent of voters said “yes,” but it wasn’t enough to clear the required two-thirds supermajority.
Bond money was slated to pay for remodeling the existing school — including improving front entrance security — as well constructing a new multipurpose building, vocational building and small building with a couple of alternative school classrooms.
For years, Idaho’s two-thirds supermajority requirement for bonds has been a challenge for school districts. There have been unsuccessful attempts in the state Legislature to lower the threshold.
In Wendell, there were four failed bond attempts over two years, starting in March 2014. School officials ended up deciding to try a supplemental levy renewal instead — but for additional money and a pared down list of facility projects — and it passed in May 2016.
Back in Shoshone, “we’re kind of kicking things around of what to do,” school board chairman Tony Bozzuto said Thursday, including ideas on how to pass a bond.
“The facilities plan really hasn’t changed,” Bozzuto said. “What we’re going to try to do to is get more people out to vote for the bond.”
The facilities committee — which has about 25 members, half of whom are community members — still thinks the facilities plan is solid, Waite said, adding most of the needs are safety related.
“It’s not asking for anything we don’t need, really,” Bozzuto said. “Security is a big issue there.”
The school district will go back to an architect to see how prices for facility projects have changed since the last election, he said.
In the meantime, there aren’t any major facility projects planned in Shoshone schools — just a regular rotation of maintenance. Recent projects have included cement work to address some ice issues that surface during the wintertime at the elementary school playground.
The next step for the facilities committee: Members will reach out to community members — particularly parents — to get input on the 20-year facilities plan and specifically, safety-related needs.
One thing the committee has figured out is “a lot of people are just not voting,” Bozzuto said, and especially people who have children. “The ‘no’ voters are going to be there no matter what. They show up sunshine, rain or snow.”
One important aspect voters may not realize, he said, is that 25 percent of the $6 million bond amount would be subsidized by the state through Idaho’s bond levy equalization program.
Bozzuto said he’s happy the nearby Richfield School District passed a $4 million bond in August for facility projects, but it also “left sour grapes in my mouth that we haven’t.”
Since Shoshone is a small community, the facilities committee will reach out to community members personally rather than through mass mailings, Waite said.
“Any input that they could give would be really appreciated.”