November 1, 2023
Why Vote Yes?
By: Deanna Judy
As an SD 25 School Board member, parent, and a conservative community member, the needs of our children and being fiscally conservative have been central in my thoughts when considering what is best for our children and for our community. With so much noise and so many opinions and questions, here are three things to consider.
First, learning about the bond equalization program played a huge part in my decision making. This program through the state pays 28.04% of all principal and interest payments on a bond. That means that almost 30% of the cost of construction will come back to us from taxes our community has paid to the state. This is our tax money coming back to benefit our community, instead of our community footing the entire bill for improvements and construction needed in our schools. Other school districts across the state are taking advantage of this program and I think we should as well.
The second important thing to consider is House Bill 292 that went into effect in July. The intended purpose of this new bill is to help districts across the state with facilities that are in need of updating and improvement, without raising property taxes. Thus, the name of the fund created by the bill, “School District Facilities Fund and Homeowner Property Tax Relief Account.” Our district will receive enough money to completely cover our bond payment and some of the levy amount, as well. This is the specific purpose of this legislation.
Finally, from a conservative standpoint, I want to see projects done in a cost-effective and fiscally accountable way. The school district has hired a commercial design and construction team to rebuild Highland High School. While they are there, it makes sense to include much-needed improvements and updates in the project. Most notably, construction of an auditorium next to the gym that will be comparative in size to other 6A schools across the state. (Highland is now in the 6A category) It will be a venue not just for the students at Highland, but for our homeschool, private schools, as well as our community to enjoy.
The second project that would be included in the bond is the gym expansion/activity space addition at Century High School. While our design and construction teams are hired and available, it is an extremely cost effective way to accomplish these goals for our children and community. As far as accountability, a bond requires accountability for funds being spent. If the bond passes, the money MUST be spent specifically the way it is outlined in the bond information. That is, to re-build and expand Highland for the future, and to expand the gymnasium and activity space at Century. It cannot be used for any other project, or put into any other account for a different purpose. Complete accountability is required for a bond and rules will be strictly adhered to if the bond is passed.
With many things to consider, this option takes into account the students in our district, accountability, and the inflation we are currently facing as a community. The students at Highland need a school to get back to at this time, and we need to do everything we can to not increase property taxes at this time of struggle. My hope is that the voters of our community will take these things into consideration when casting this crucial vote. This will have to pass by a super majority, and will require active participation and support from our community members.