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Davis school officials plan $40M bond, weigh $430M in other projects

By Tim Vandenack - | May 19, 2022

Photo supplied, Davis School District

The undated photo shows West Point Elementary. Davis School District officials on Tuesday approved plans for a $40 million lease-revenue bond to build a new school in West Point to help ease overcrowding at the school

FARMINGTON — Davis School District officials are planning to bond to build a new school in West Point to address overcrowding at West Point Elementary. The planned bond would be for $40 million.

It’s not the only potential infrastructure project in the works to keep pace with growth, or to keep existing facilities up to date, though. District officials have compiled a wish list pinpointing $430 million more in potential projects, on top of the new West Point school. The other potential projects — unfunded at this point — include two other new schools, two school rebuilds and six school expansion or remodel projects.

Though school board members, acting as the newly-created Local Building Authority of Davis School District, agreed on Tuesday to issue $40 million in lease-revenue bonds for the new West Point school, whether to move on the other projects is still subject to debate and discussion. The list of the $430 million in projects was the focus of a school board work session, also on Tuesday.

“Everything we’re doing now is preliminary to any decision,” said John Robison, president of the Davis School Board, on Thursday.

At any rate, the scope of the project proposals underscore the rapid population growth of Davis County. Davis School District covers the entirety of Davis County and, with more than 70,000 students, is the second-largest in Utah after the Alpine School District.

The Davis School District document shows the wish list of school projects, totaling $430 million. School officials discussed the projects at a meeting on Tuesday, May 17, 2022.

Growth means more kids, necessitating new schools, Robison said.

The need for the new West Point area elementary school came apparent as school officials debated redrawing West Point Elementary’s boundaries to address crowding at the school. More than 1,000 students attend the school, augmented by portables.

“West Point has as big of an enrollment as a couple of our junior high schools. We are in dire need of at least one more elementary in that area,” Robison said.

Davis School District voters in 2015 approved a $298 million bond to cover the cost of nine school projects. They included construction of three new elementary schools, a new junior high school, a new high school (Farmington High School) and four other remodel or rebuild projects.

By tapping lease-revenue bonds for the West Point school this go-round, by contrast, school officials don’t have to hold a public vote on the financing, unless voters petition to put the $40 million bond question on the ballot. According to Christopher Williams, the district spokesperson, it’s the first time the district is seeking funding via the mechanism.

According to district paperwork on the plans, a public hearing on the lease-revenue bond proposal will be held on June 7 at 3:45 p.m. at district offices at 45 E. State St. in Farmington.

Furthermore, once a formal notice of the plans is published, district voters may petition to force a public vote of the bond question, according to the paperwork. To succeed, petitioners, who would have 30 days, would have to get signatures from at least 20% of registered voters in the school district.

Williams said annual costs to pay off the $40 million lease-revenue bond would come from existing revenue streams, precluding the need for a property tax hike. The total cost of bonding, including interest costs, would total $44,320,132 over as many as 21 years.

The $430 million in wish list projects includes a second new elementary school in the district and a new junior high school in the West Point area, along with reconstruction of Sunset Junior High School and Bountiful Elementary. Also included are proposals to remodel Bountiful and Clearfield high schools and to add on to Layton High School, among others.

Williams said school officials discussed the notion of bonding to cover the cost of wish list projects, though those discussions are ongoing.

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