Davis School District putting $475 million bond question to voters
FARMINGTON — Davis School District will be asking voters for as much as $475 million — nearly half a billion dollars — to upgrade and expand its facilities.
School officials last month decided to put the bond question to voters in this fall’s elections and they are in the process of preparing a campaign to get word out to the public. A website with details of the bond proposal has been created, dsdbond.org, and school officials on Tuesday posted some of the videos to be used to educate the public about the bond proposal.
“There’s a double urgency in my mind,” John Robison, president of the Davis school board, said Wednesday. Two aging schools in particular need to be rebuilt, Sunset Junior High School and Bountiful Elementary, he said, and more facilities are needed to accommodate booming population growth in the northwest part of Davis County around West Point, abutting Weber County.
The amount may be big. Davis School District received support from voters in 2015 for a $298 million bond, by comparison. Weber School District voters in Weber County, meantime, approved a $279 million bond proposal in 2021 while Ogden voters OK’d an $87 million bond issue for the Ogden School District in 2018.
At any rate, needs for new and upgraded facilities in Davis County are “quite urgent,” said Davis School District spokesperson Chris Williams, echoing Robison. He said a survey of Davis County voters showed 55% support for bonding among respondents, a figure that grows to 70% when the question stipulates that the bonds won’t boost taxes.
Notably, with continuing expansion of the district tax base through population growth and the retirement of other outstanding school district debt in coming years, district officials maintain that the bonds, if approved, won’t boost property taxes.
Election Day is Nov. 8 this year and the question about bonding will appear on the ballots of all Davis County voters since the district covers the entirety of the county.
Davis School District, with 92 schools and around 72,000 students, is one of the biggest in Utah, and Davis County, like much of the Wasatch Front, has experienced quick growth. Here’s a breakdown of how the bond funding would be used:
New schools: $135 million would be used to build a new junior high school and a new elementary school in or near West Point. “These schools will ease building overcrowding and give students more room to learn,” reads the district website on the bond proposal.
Rebuilding schools: $140 million would be used to rebuild Sunset Junior High School and Bountiful Elementary. Williams said the schools would be built on undeveloped portions of the schools’ campuses so kids could continue using the existing facilities until the new ones are done.
The two schools are among the district’s oldest and “have significant repair needs that can detract from student learning,” reads the district website.
Remodeling schools: $135 million would be used to remodel or expand seven schools — Bountiful High, Clearfield High, Layton High, Kaysville Junior High, Burton Elementary in Kaysville, Layton Elementary and Vae View Elementary in Layton.
Miscellaneous: Another $60 million would be used on smaller projects around the district — improving air conditioning systems, upgrading energy systems, installing playground equipment and more.
“The district also looks forward to installing air conditioning in five high school gyms and building new track and turf fields at three junior highs in the north, central and south portions of the school district,” reads the district website.
School officials last May discussed a “wish list” of some $430 million in project needs. The debate over school facilities, though, is “a continuing discussion,” Williams said.
While district officials say they can hold taxes steady for individual taxpayers if the $475 million bond issue is approved thanks to expected growth and retirement of existing bonds, it follows that taxes would theoretically go down without the bond issue. According to the resolution approving the bond issue, the property taxes needed to cover the $475 million bond issue would amount to $269.10 per year for 21 years on a home worth $534,oo0, the median value in Davis County.
A public hearing on the plans is set for 6 p.m. Oct. 4 at school district offices at 45 E. State St. in Farmington.