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BCSD preparing for worst for VVE

by EMILY BONSANT
Hagadone News Network | February 24, 2022 1:00 AM

BONNERS FERRY — Boundary County School Board officials presented a worst case scenario for Valley View Elementary if the bond does not pass at the Tuesday, Feb. 15 city council meeting.

“Valley View is 74 years old. You cannot candy coat that,” said BCSD Trustee Teresa Rae.

The facilities committee just looked over the sewer lines three weeks ago at Mount Hall, Rae said. Both buildings were built at the same time. It will cost almost $500,000 to fix the plumbing at Mount Hall and there is a worse issue at Valley View, district officials said.

“We cannot say it enough, we have huge problems,” she said. “So if this does not get passed, quickly, we're going back to the drawing board. And what you see in here listed is off the table. But it's gone. Because we have issues in both of those schools that have to be addressed right now, we have not put hardly any capital improvement projects [into Valley View] that improve safety and security in Valley View for almost a decade.”

The BCSD board knew eight years ago that once the high school bond was paid off, that they wanted to replace Valley View, Rae said.

“So we've been putting zero or as minimal dollars as we can divulge. And so now we have about 10 years worth of deferred maintenance on top of the fact that [Valley View] is 74 years old.”

Rae said that over the past 73 years, roughly 400 students per year have gone through Valley View — roughly 29,200 students. If the bond does not pass, then the district has to go back to the drawing board in the next 90 days and address issues.

Rae said the planning is due to the possibility of a catastrophic incident that could happen at Valley View. Such an event would make it unsafe for students and displace 400 students, who would likely be farmed out to several churches in town or bring back double shifts at the district to provide schooling for all students.

“I did a double-shifting back in the day, that's where we're at,” Rae said. “And that's what we need our citizens to know, bottom line.”

BCSD Superintendent Jan Bayer said that the district is anticipating a catastrophic failure at Valley View in the next five years.

“If that was to happen, we would look at moving Valley View to the middle school and double shift in the high school just to get us through until we get it fixed. We don't want to do that. I've lived through double shifts,” Bayer said.

Even with moving students to other schools, should a failure take place, there would not be the required food services to feed the students, Rae said. There would be no place for administrative teams or special services either.

“It would be a wake-up call to this community,” Rae said.

In the state of Idaho a school bond has to have a two-thirds majority vote in order to pass, Bayer said. The proposed bond is for $16.4 million. $14 million would go to a new Valley View Elementary school and $2.4 million would provide updates to other infrastructure at other schools in the district, such as constructing traffic flow solutions at Naples Elementary, updating the bleachers for the football field, shop additions at the high school and shop renovations at the middle school.

To remodel Valley View, it would cost $8.1 million and the building would still be uninsulated and not fuel efficient, Bayer said.

“So the [facilities committee] scrapped the remodeling and said, ‘we really need to go forward with the bond,’” Bayer said.

Bayer said that waiting five years between bonds would be great as a tax reprieve for taxpayers, but for every year the district waits to build a new Valley View, the construction cost goes up $1 million due to inflation.

“Three years ago the $14 million project of Valley View would have only cost $11 million,” said Teresa Rae, BCSD trustee.

This is a similar situation with the building of the high school, Bayer said. Originally, the proposed bond was going to be for $18 million but BCSD is using federal funds, such as ESSER funds and ARPA funds to make structure and infrastructure improvements to other schools. This includes a $1.4 million addition at Naples Elementary happening this summer, and plumbing and HVAC repair at Mount Hall Elementary, boiler replacement at the high school and front door replacements and HVAC replacements in other schools.

The high school bond is being paid off and will be fully paid off in August. On the ballot, the remainder owed on the high school bond is $676,725 and will be present due to the final payments needing to be paid.

“The reason why we did this was timing,” Rae said. “It's very seamless to transition from one bond and go into a new bond, as opposed to then let the bond drop, and then try and reinstall a bond in a year to three later.”

“And we really feel that this committee has done their due diligence, they've set a plan for us for the next 10 years,” Bayer said.

Members of the facility committee include: Merle Ansley, Jan Bayer, Ryan Comer, Chris Pease, Tony Rohrwasser, Gary Aitken, Jr., Kristie Campbell, Clark Fairchild, Bob Overman, Ron Smith, Cal Bateman, Mark Carey, Wesley Hubbard, Teresa Rae and Anne Tompkins.

Any of the Facilities Committee members are willing to answer questions. Please reach out to them. Additionally, any of the following are willing to answer any of your questions: Jan Bayer, Superintendent, 208-267-3146 or jan.bayer@mail.bcsd101.com; Teresa Rae, School Board Trustee, teresa.rae@mail.bcsd101.com; and Cal Bateman, Business Manager, 208-267-3146 or cal.bateman@mail.bcsd101.com.

The next school bond presentations are scheduled for;

• Thursday, Feb. 24 at Valley View at 5 p.m.

• Tuesday, March 1st at Valley View at 5 p.m.

For more information, visit bcsd.101.org.

There is also a tax calculator on the district website that will give a quote for taxes. Just input the assessed value of your home.

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