GOODING — Gooding and Richfield voters will weigh in next month on $13.5 million in school funding requests.
Monday was the deadline for school districts to submit ballot language to their county clerk for the August 28 election.
Here are details about the ballot measures:
The Gooding School District, which has 1,380 students, is seeking a 10-year plant facilities levy for $950,000 annually. The measure requires 55 percent voter support to pass.
Plant facilities levies can be used for land purchases and facility projects, including building new schools or remodeling.
Gooding’s current 10-year levy for $400,000 per year expires soon. “This will replace that,” business manager Lisa Astorquia said Wednesday.
School officials expect tax rates to remain fairly steady. A $2 million bond passed in 2011 to renovate Gooding High School will be paid off and market values in Gooding have been increasing the last couple of years, Astorquia said.
If approved, levy money would be used for projects such as replacing school HVAC units, purchasing newer and additional security cameras, putting in new doors at Gooding High School where visitors will have to be buzzed into the building, a new fire alarm system, new parking lot asphalt and likely, a new elementary/middle school roof within the next 10 years.
The district plans to mail out flyers to Gooding-area residents about the levy election, Astorquia said. It will also hold a community meeting, but a date hasn’t been set yet.
The Richfield School District, which has about 200 students, is pursuing a $4 million bond to pay for three projects: replacing the school’s heating system and adding air conditioning, building a detached gymnasium and building a welding and agriculture shop. The measure requires a two-thirds supermajority to pass.
A committee made up of parents has been formed to help educate the community about the bond, Superintendent Mike Smith said Wednesday. They’re starting to work on creating informational flyers. Community meetings may also be scheduled.
If approved, the tax rate for property owners would increase roughly $153 per year per $100,000 in valuation.
Matt Kent, an optometrist who has four children attending the Richfield school, is chairman of the bond committee. When it comes to the school building, “the needs are bigger than the town,” he said. “There’s always more need than money.”
Kent has heard the comment, “why don’t you build a new school?” many times. “In little towns, you can only bond for so much,” he said, adding doing upgrades over time is the way facility issues are addressed.
The first priority with bond money is replacing the heating system in the 1960s-era school building, Smith said. “With that, we’re going to improve fresh air exchange and add air conditioning.”
The school’s electrical service will have to be upgraded, he said.
The 64-year-old building’s heating system uses a boiler, and steam runs through cast iron pipes, which are worn out, Kent said. “The heating system is in trouble and if we don’t do something, we risk hundreds of thousands of dollars on trying to patch it trying to keep it going.”
There’s also no air exchange. “Kids can’t get fresh air in the building,” Kent said. “It’s pretty stale in there.”
The upgrade will allow the school to provide air conditioning options it can’t right now, he said, which will make it more comfortable for children.
Using bond money, the second priority is adding a gymnasium complex not attached to the school building. It would be Richfield’s second gym.
“Right now, there’s one gym floor that everyone all has to try to share,” Kent said. Some practices are held at 6 a.m., and people rotate in and out of the gym until 8 or 9 p.m. to accommodate all of the needs.
With another gym, junior high games could start later, Kent said, and that would mean more classroom time. Two games could be underway simultaneously and the extra space would “add a ton of scheduling flexibility,” he said.
Smith said he hopes the gym could be used as a community center, with hours for local residents.
The third priority for bond money is building a welding and agriculture shop. The current shop is fairly small and with children using welding equipment in a confined space, “there are some safety concerns there,” Kent said.
The current facility is about one-and-a-half blocks from the main school campus. Children take a school bus or sometimes walk.
“It’s hard to supervise,” Smith said, and for school safety purposes, the school district wants to have a building on campus.