SALT LAKE CITY — From tiny South Summit School District to two large, suburban school districts in Salt Lake County, six area boards of education are asking voters this fall for permission to borrow more than $800 million to build and renovate schools.
Some districts seek to replace a stock of aging buildings, some of them more than 50 years old. Others are attempting to stay ahead of enrollment growth.
Other improvements, officials say, are needed to keep pace with technology, improve school climate and enhance safety of students and employees.
Jade Teran, spokeswoman for Parents for Granite, a political action committee that supports the $238 million bond issue proposed by the Granite School Board, said investing in a long-range plan to rebuild and renovate schools will help ensure they are safe and can support 21st century educational technology.
"I'm a firm believer in you get what you give. We need to give these kids the infrastructure they need to succeed," Teran said.
If voters authorize issuance of the bond, a home valued at $259,900 will see a property tax increase of about $15 a month, roughly $180 annually.
The bond would be used to rebuild Skyline and Cyprus high schools, three junior high schools (Kearns, Valley and Evergreen) and 12 elementary schools across the district and pay for remodeling projects at more than a dozen other schools over 10 years. More detailed information can be found at gsdfuture.org.
Granite's proposal comes on top of a property tax increase approved by the school board this summer to help fund pay raises for educators.
In Canyons School District, a proposed $283 million general obligation bond would be used to rebuild Hillcrest and Brighton high schools along with Union Middle School and four elementary schools.
The general-obligation bond would also cover upgrades at 18 elementary schools that would bring in natural light from windows and skylights at a projected cost about $3.1 million.
Other projects that would be addressed under the proposed bond are renovations to Alta High School that include a new auditorium and gymnasium; construction of new classrooms at Corner Canyon High School, which opened in 2013, and office upgrades at six elementary schools.
The school district's bond information describes the proposal as "tax rate neutral," meaning bond payments will be layered into the district's outstanding debt paid by taxes assessed on residential and business property in the district's boundaries.
Annual property taxes on a residence valued at $373,000 would be $118 a year or $215 for a business of the same valuation. The bond would be repaid over 20 years.
In Weber County, both the Ogden and Weber school districts are asking voters to approve bond issues to build and renovate schools.
The Ogden Board of Education is asking voters' authorization to bond for $106.5 million to replace three elementary schools, likely Horace Mann, T.O. Smith and Polk. Bond proceeds also would be used to replace the gymnasium at Ben Lomond High School and construct three "professional gateway centers" at Highland and Mount Ogden junior high schools.
According to information about the bond proposal on the Ogden School District website, "the school board has chosen against bonding for any amount above what the current tax rate would support," which means property tax rates will not go up but current assessments for debt service on previous bonds will continue for another 20 years.
The Weber Board of Education has proposed a $97 million bond that would be used to build new schools and expand existing schools to address growth as well as rebuild an aging school.
Plans envision a 12-classroom addition to Fremont High School, rebuilding Roy Junior High and building new elementary schools in the Remuda neighborhood of Farr West and another in Pleasant View.
Weber Innovations High School would also be expanded under the bond.
According to the school district's website, property tax rates will not increase because of a growing number of taxpayers in the area who have built or purchased homes or opened businesses in the area.
Meanwhile, voters in two smaller school districts will also be asked to approved bond issues.
The Morgan County School District seeks voters' permission to bond for $49 million to fund a number of building projects, including a new middle school in Mountain Green.
Plans also include an addition to Morgan High School that would accommodate 300 additional students. Once the new addition is completed, the oldest classrooms will be demolished, leaving an area for future expansion of the auditorium.
A letter to patrons on the school district's website says the bond will require a property tax $158.25 a year on a residence valued at $300,000 or a $287.78 increase for a business of the same valuation.
South Summit Board of Education seeks voter approval of a $58.65 million bond, primarily to rebuild South Summit High School in Kamas at a cost of $57 million. The rest of the bond will be used to repair existing buildings.
The cost to property owners will be about $96 per year per $100,000 of taxable value on a single-family home and $174 per year per $100,000 for a business property.
It is the only school bond on Utah election ballots this fall that is endorsed by the Utah Taxpayers Association.27 comments on this story
Association Vice President Billy Hesterman said South Summit School District won the organization's endorsement after agreeing to build "best-value" schools.
"We expect school districts to keep the taxpayer in mind as they construct or remodel facilities. It is important that the buildings are structurally sound, designed to keep students and teachers safe and enhance the learning experience. It is not important for the structures to be monuments to the school boards and administration that designed them," Hesterman said.