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Granite School District Bond to improve facilities on November ballot

Oct 03, 2017 10:22AM ● Published by Aspen Perry

Granite School District household financial breakdown from gsdfuture.org videos. (gsdfuture.org)

Gallery: Granite School District [2 Images] Click any image to expand.

By Aspen Perry   |   a.perry@mycityjournals.com

Granite School District (GSD) proposed the GSD Bond, up for vote November 7, in response to the rising concerns that GSD education facilities will not be able to keep pace with 21st century learning, in addition to safety concerns of outdated educational facilities. 

“We have a billion dollars in capital needs in Granite School District, and that’s not Granite school officials telling us that, it is independent facility engineers who assessed our buildings 18 months ago,” said Ben Horsley, director of communications and community for GSD during a presentation to Holladay City Council on Sept 14. 

Two years ago, the district board began strategizing ways to improve education facilities, and presented their initial findings to GSD communities in February and March of this year. After receiving community feedback, GSD conducted a survey to discover the cost model citizens would be most in support of. 

As stated in the “Where We Are Now” video on gsdfuture.org, survey results showed the most support for a hybrid model of capital fees. 

The hybrid model, viewed to have the least amount of financial impact on taxpayers, includes an initial 10-year $238 million bond with a 40-year plan to rebuild and remodel every school in the district.

Once the 10-year bond is paid in full the tax revenue would be maintained by placing it back into the capital revenue. 

In regards to opposition stating how GSD does not show responsibility for how they “spend others money,” as seen on a recent KSL announcement on public bond meetings, GSD representatives state they will have to account for funds used. 

“The fund requires a truth in taxation, and we anticipate the funding for the next 30 years would be able to provide rebuilds and renovations for the remainder of the schools,” Horsley said. 

According to information provided by parentsforgranite.org, the financial breakdown per household of the $238M bond will average $15 monthly or $184 annually, on a $250,000 home.

That’s money proponents of the bond feel is a small price to pay for student safety and learning.

“A better facility is extremely important to how we help out students,” said Trent Hendricks, principal of Valley Junior High School. 

In addition to newer facilities being able to keep pace with 21st-century learning, newer facilities are also believed to improve school culture. 

“The state of your building directly impacts culture… a new building can make an impact in the areas of morale and collaboration,” Hendricks said.  

Given current district facility needs, GSD representatives explained regardless if the bond passes or not improvement costs will be passed on to taxpayers. They further stressed that the bond simply offers a responsible cost plan. 

The “Why Bond Now” video on gsdfuture.org explains that due to current low interest rates and rise in construction costs, waiting could result in paying 10 percent more with each passing year until a plan is established. 

“If we wait three years to put this together that $184 (annual per family cost), becomes over $240… and these aren’t wants, these are needs, so it’s not like the list is going to change suddenly because we wait a few years,” said Don Adams, assistant superintendent with GSD.

Those needs include making facilities safer in the event of a natural disaster. Not only is this vital to students’ safety, but also for the purpose of educational facilities serving as centers for the community to seek assistance after a natural disaster. 

“In the event of an emergency, 30 of our schools would be unusable,” Horsley said. 

As public community meetings began in September, Horsley stated the biggest complaint addressed to GSD was citizens asking why the district had not done this sooner. Though the district did attempt for more funding during their 2009 bond initiative, due to the political climate at that time, the district bond was only able to pull from capital funding and not request a tax increase. 

Horsley stressed the importance of the public seeing the value of education as an investment not just to kids but also to our community. 

“If we don’t invest back into our kids, there is no economic future. Investing in the education of our kids is an investment to our way of life.”

To participate in public community meetings in October, visit gsdfuture.org or send comments to gsdfuture@graniteschools.org.

Education

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