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School bond to run again in August

by EMILY BONSANT
Hagadone News Network | June 23, 2022 1:00 AM

BONNERS FERRY — Boundary County School District plans to rerun a school bond for a new Valley View Elementary in the August election.

The decision was based in part by the recommendation of the facility committee. The bond ballot language is due July 11.

The initial bond failed in the March election, with 1,158 people voting “yes,” or 53.79%; and 995, or 46.21%, voting “no.” There are 7,227 registered voters in Boundary County.

At the June 20 school board meeting, some residents voiced opposition to re-running the school bond. They suggested that the board look at other options to fund the school. Many wanted clarity on why a new VVE is needed or why elderly who don’t have grandchildren in the district need to pay for the new school.

Teresa Rae, board vice chair, said the largest issue at VVE isn’t the roof, or the plumbing, but security.

Rae said the school shooting last month at Robb Elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, made her heart sink because students at VVE are outside school corridors all daylong as they move from building to building.

“If you talk to any law enforcement person in this town, they will tell you they hate that school,” Rae said. “They hate it because they can’t defend it.”

She said with a simple open door in Texas, the shooter was able to gain access. Rae said there are 40 doors leading to the outside at VVE that students traverse throughout the day.

“The No. 1 issue is security and we cannot fix that,” she said.

At this time, trustee Nicki Weaver said the board feels they are up against the wall and don’t know any other legal option allowed by the state to fund a new school.

Board members voiced concerns of re-running the bond in November because the tax increase would be more for taxpayers as the high school bond would be dropping off in September.

In response to comments by the public that the district should pursue getting funds after the state takes back federal lands, board members said they don’t know if that will happen or if they can wait that long to ensure student safety.

Weaver said as a board member it is their responsibility to provide safety for students. She added that the board can’t wait for something that might happen all the while throwing money at a school that is still going to be replaced as interest rates are going up.

Trustee Mary Fioravanti continued in her persistence that the bond be re-run in the November general election rather than an August election. She added that it costs the county $10,000 to $12,000 to run elections outside the general election and argued that as another reason to hold off on the August election.

Bayer cautioned on waiting for the November election, since interest rates weighted from March until June have made the project’s cost go up $2.7 million.

“[If] we wait another three months, that’s a $5 million [cost] to save the county $10,000,” Bayer said. “You just charged the taxpayer $5 million more.”

Fioravanti said she still stands by a general election for the bond in order to not appear to be pulling the wool over the public’s eyes.

Bayer replied the district will be sending out save-the-dates mailers for the August election to every registered voter in the county.

Weaver was on the opposing side and stated that in a general election voters know who they are planning to vote for. If that voter is not prepared to vote on the school bond and sees that the district is asking for more money, they will vote “no” without doing the research on the topic.

Weaver also voiced concern that if VVE was inspected by the state, it could be condemned and torn down. It could then require a school be built to their standard, making taxpayers foot the bill — something which happened at Plummer Worley.

Bayer said that the state could give the district two chances to pass the bond, before coming in to require a school be built to their specifications.

“We either choose to rebuild this building or wait until it is condemned. If we choose not to as a community, the state will choose to do it for us,” Weaver said. “By then [taxpayers] are paying more money.”

Bayer said that the district doesn’t want to do that because the district and its patrons should have control of what happens. She said they feel that the facility committee represents different industries across the county and have analyzed all buildings over the past two years.

She reminded those present that BCSD has a constitutional obligation to provide a safe school.

Bayer said another solution is the district could run a plant facility levy and collect $4.5 million a year and save the amount until a new school could be built. This would cost the district more overall, taxes would be higher and would only require 55% of votes in favor to pass.

A school bond requires a supermajority to pass. Bayer said the taxpayer would pay more than through the bond.

Bayer reminded those present that VVE’s gym roof collapsed a few years ago and that same roof is on VVE.

Bayer said from a safety point of view it makes her sick to think of children being under the same roof.

The board agreed in a 2-1 vote to re-run the bond in the August election.

For more information on the proposed school bond, visit bcsd101.org or watch the YouTube video created by the district and the facility committee at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XekUeeyn5VM

Other maintenance projects for BCSD school have been paid through federal funds through Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief dollars.

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