FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How much will this cost me as a homeowner? Will it raise my taxes?
In November of 2020, the total School Levy Rate was $3.79 per $1,000 of taxable property. Both the District and our finance advisor from Zion’s Public Finance have projected the total School Levy Rate with this bond project will be $3.76 per $1,000 of taxable property. Of the $3.76, approximately $1.12 will be used for this potential bond project. We are confident the total School Levy Rate will not increase should the bond be approved.
Why does the school need to do a BOND?
Currently the Blackfoot School District is experiencing overcrowding at I.T. Stoddard Elementary School and Blackfoot High School. With anticipated growth for both buildings in the coming years, the District feels this bond project will ease the stress on both of those buildings.
What happens in the BOND doesn't pass? Is there a plan B?
Should the bond not pass, we will need to investigate other options, possibly more modular classrooms, to ease the burden on I.T. Stoddard Elementary School and Blackfoot High School.
How is a BOND different than a LEVY?
Traditional public schools are allowed to receive patron approval to levy property taxes for the support of the school system. When speaking of a “levy”, the school district is referring to short-term tax which can be used as discretionary funding. Typically, levies only require a simple majority, 50%, to be approved. When speaking of a “bond”, the school district is referring to a long-term tax which can only be used to construct, remodel, and furnish school building facilities. In the state of Idaho, school bonds require a supermajority, 66.7%, to be approved. This means there would need to be at least twice as many votes in support of the bond as compared to what would be required for a normal levy.
What other options were explored?
Other options were explored prior to making this recommendation. Some options included: a new high school, a separate Career Technical Complex, and a different location for a new elementary school. None of these other options were able to address multiple needs within the district.
What was the last BOND and was it successful?
The most recent bond election held in the Blackfoot School District was for the construction of the Blackfoot Performing Arts Center and the new gymnasium, both are a part of the Blackfoot High School campus. The bond prior to that was the bond used to construct Ridge Crest Elementary School. The patrons have been paying BOTH these bonds for the past twenty (20) years. Both these previous bonds have been extremely beneficial to our district and our community.
What problems are being addressed by this BOND?
This bond project will not only address the overcrowding occurring at I.T. Stoddard Elementary School and Blackfoot High School, but it will also address the current demand for technical classes at Blackfoot High School. Unfortunately, many students who wish to take some of our technical classes are unable to do so, because we do not offer enough sections of the class. The addition of the career technical complex at Blackfoot High School will help us address the current demand for these types of classes.
Why act right now? Can this wait?
There are a few reasons as to why the time is right now. First, with the retirement of our most recent bonds, the district is able to manage this potential bond project without an increase to school property tax levy rate.
Second, this potential bond will qualify for a state subsidy program called the “Idaho Bond Levy Equalization Support Program”. This program supports school districts which pass patron-approved bonds. This would be the first bond in the Blackfoot School District which would be eligible for state subsidies. According to our public finance advisor, the Blackfoot School District would likely see state assistance up to 32% of the annual payment for an approved bond. This means the State of Idaho would pay almost 1/3 of our annual payment for a voter-approved bond.
Third, current interest rates are among the lowest we have seen. With the state of Idaho guaranteeing all voter-approved bonds, we will receive favorable interest rates. This in combination with the state subsidies mentioned above, means that the Blackfoot School District patrons will not be required to pay back the entire amount of the bond project. With low interest rates AND state subsidies, our patrons will not be required to pay back the entire cost of the bond.
If we were to wait, we strongly believe we would spend more money trying to address our challenges through a “band-aid” approach. The fiscally responsible option is to address these challenges with a bond and use other funds to address challenges that can be properly addressed by other means.
Why not a HS instead? Is a new elementary school the need?
The option of building a new high school was discussed multiple times. In our research, we discovered it would likely take an increase between four (4) and four and half (4.5) our current levy rate to build a new high school. As the superintendent, I am not comfortable making that recommendation to our school board nor asking our patrons to support that type of increase. The location of a new high school combined with the recent additions of the BPAC and gymnasium have created a difficult scenario.
Not only is a new elementary school a need due to the current capacity limitations of I.T. Stoddard Elementary, but the proximity of that school to Blackfoot High School is becoming more and more of a problem. The ability to annex the current elementary school as part of the Blackfoot High School campus not only elevates capacity issues for Blackfoot High School but will provide additional educational opportunities to our high school students.
How much does it cost? Doesn’t the state fund school buildings?
In total, the District is seeking voter approval for a bond in the amount of $23.9 million. As confirmed by our public finance advisor, with the retirement of our previous bonds this would not create an increased tax burden for our patrons, rather a continuation of our current investment in our students.
While the state does not fund school facilities for traditional public school districts, the state does provide subsidies for school districts with voter-approved bonds. Currently, the Blackfoot School District is eligible for a 32% subsidy from the State to support any new bond approved in our District.