SANDY — A bond election — when to do it and how much money to ask from the taxpayer — is on the minds of the freshly formed East Jordan School District.

The board, having been sworn in just last week, met Tuesday night for its first official board meeting.

"We know we need to bond for capital facilities. We need to get started," said board president Tracy Cowdell.

There are up to $600 million in needs, including updating, renovating and retrofitting older buildings, plus constructing new buildings, Cowdell said.

The board, in its study session, discussed three potential election dates: this November, June 2009 and November 2009.

Officials with George K. Baum & Co. told the East Jordan board the time to bond is within these next few election dates.

"You are riding a wave of momentum. You do have a tremendous amount of support behind you," said Jim R. Matsumori, Baum's executive vice president and CPA.

Although Matsumori said it's possible the board could stage a successful bond election this fall or in June, he warned members if the first try fails it is difficult to keep that momentum going.

East Jordan board member Ellen Wallace, who has experienced three bond elections in the past 14 years as a member of the original Jordan School Board, said it takes months to prepare for a bond election and to inform the public.

Board member Kevin Cromar pointed out the East Jordan district is still in the middle of resolving its asset distribution issue with the original Jordan district. The East Jordan district is to be officially split by July 2009.

Matsumori agreed this is a "key critical component" as voters need to know the costs of the bond and what exactly will be done with the money.

"These are some concerns — no doubt about it," he said.

Board member Mont Millerburg said having a bond election after the district superintendent is on board and the district is fully staffed would be optimal. The board is in the process of hiring a superintendent, hoping to announce a name by mid-August and have the new leader begin by Sept. 1.

Wallace said she is concerned that the recent downturn in the economy could affect the success of a bond election. Matsumori assured the board that right now is a good time to bond. "All your ducks are in a row," he said. "You have done your homework."

Cowdell said, "We want to do this."

Wallace mentioned besides studying how much the district should bond for, she supports doing a poll to see how patrons feel — particularly how much they would be able to handle as far as a tax increase. George Baum and Co. has been the original Jordan district's financial adviser for about 15 years and saw the district through its last three bond elections.


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