Residents put some hard questions Tuesday night to Millard Public Schools officials on the district's proposed $140.8 million bond issue.
But apart from one testy exchange between a school official and a questioner, the tone of the evening was cordial and informative.
About 70 people attended the meeting sponsored by the district in a lecture hall at Millard South High School.
Most concerns from residents centered on the size of the bond issue and the timing in a poor economy. Residents will vote by mail between Oct. 28 and Nov. 15.
“I think it's excessive,” said Martina Drewes, who has four children in the Millard schools and one still at home.
She said she and her husband have tightened their own budget, cooking food from scratch, cutting back on soda pop and limiting their spending on entertainment. The district should be cutting back, too, she said.
“I think there are wants on that list that are definitely not needs,” she said.
Drewes questioned the plan to purchase additional interactive white boards for classrooms, saying teachers could get by with a chalkboard.
Superintendent Keith Lutz said a white board in the hands of a good teacher helps students learn.
Lutz said technology helps prepare students for “the world stage.”
Dave Anderson, president of the school board, said he sympathized with Drewes. He said the employees where he works, Millard Lumber, have also suffered from the economic recession.
Anderson said, however, that school board members decided now was the right time to put the issue before voters.
The school board held the district's tax levy steady at $1.21 per $100 of valuation this year, anticipating that the package of security, technology, renovations and energy-efficiency projects would be put to a vote, he said.
The bond issue would cost the owner of a $200,000 house about $30 more a year.
He said he wasn't sure what the district would do if the bond issue fails.
Lutz told the crowd the fallback plan could involve trying a referendum again during next spring's primary election, with a pared-down version of the bond issue, or raising taxes or cutting staff.
He told the crowd that district officials were simply putting the needs of the district before the voters, and it was up to them to decide whether to approve them.
The one near-breach of the otherwise civil evening came after Lutz played a promotional video on the bond issue and guided residents through a PowerPoint presentation.
Bond issue opponent Paul Meyer, sitting in the front row, told Lutz he wanted the microphone so residents could hear both sides of the issue.
Lutz told Meyer he didn't want the event to become political. Meyer, a frequent critic of the school board, did not press the issue and remained in his seat.
Two more public meetings on the bond issue are planned — Thursday at Millard North High School, 1010 S. 144th St., and Monday at Millard West High School, 5710 S. 176th Ave., both at 6:30 p.m.
Contact the writer: