Sunday , October 29, 2017 - 4:30 AM
When it comes to bond initiatives, the Weber County School District sets the gold standard.
Because when the district asks voters for $97 million, they know exactly what to expect — and they understand why it’s needed.
Weber takes an incremental approach to bond initiatives. In 2006 and 2012, the district went to voters with plans to replace outdated buildings and build new schools to accommodate a growing enrollment. One plan anticipated another and neither required a tax increase.
The same is true now.
With an enrollment of nearly 32,000 students,Weber is the sixth largest school district in Utah — and growing. Enrollment increased by 700 students this year alone, according to Superintendent Jeff Stephens.
Stephens and the Weber School Board could’ve made a strong case for spending $246 million to fully anticipate enrollment growth and replace aging schools, but that would’ve required a tax increase. So did a smaller $161 million proposal.
“Those projects that would end up on a bond list are absolutely critical,” Stephens said during an August work session. “They were needed probably yesterday. When you look at options B and C, will they be needed in the future? Yes. Are they needed right now? No.”
After extensive meetings with district patrons, the board decided to stick with its traditional approach — replacing outdated schools and building new ones that keep up with growth, without raising taxes.
If approved Nov. 7, phase one is expected to begin in February. It includes a 12-classroom addition at Fremont High ($5 million);, a new elementary in Farr West, near Remuda ($22 million); and a new elementary in Pleasant View ($22 million).
Phase two — a $38 million rebuild of Roy Junior High School and a$10 million expansion of Weber Innovation High — would follow in March 2019.
Taxpayers know exactly what they’re getting, when and why.
Weber’s plan is detailed, transparent and fiscally conservative. It meets the immediate needs of a burgeoning school district. And, at the same time, it’s aggressive enough to anticipate another five years of growth.
The Standard-Examiner editorial board endorses the Weber School District bond initiative.
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