In 2011, Millard school district voters were asked to approve the district’s largest bond issue ever, $140.8 million. Despite a long history of voter support for such measures, 57 percent said “no.”
Many believe that voters saw the request as asking for too much to fund too many things during a too-tough economy.
Next Tuesday, Millard Public Schools is trying again — and asking for less.
This $79.9 million bond issue would focus on three key priorities: improving security, keeping up with enrollment growth and providing adequate upkeep of the district’s 38 buildings.
It’s a reasonable, focused plan that Millard school district voters should endorse.
Just over $20 million would go to a variety of security improvements, primarily renovating 14 elementary schools with open floor plans that would present security risks should an intruder gain entry. Adding interior walls so that classroom doors could be locked makes great sense.
Millard knows too well what can happen. Two years ago, an armed student entered Millard South High School, shooting and killing Assistant Principal Vicki Kaspar and wounding Principal Curtis Case before killing himself.
A second part of the bond issue would provide about $21.7 million to make changes to accommodate the district’s continuing growth. Millard is a big school district with 23,395 students, and it is adding 200 to 300 new students each year.
This plan would include classroom additions at three schools in the west and southwest, additional industrial tech space at Millard West and Millard South high schools and changes at Millard North to redesign one main entrance and improve the floor plan and student flow.
The third priority is maintenance. The plan includes $33 million for capital projects such as roof repairs, painting and paving. While this is the biggest piece of the bond issue, it’s a big job. The district has 3.7 million square feet of space, 3 million square feet of roof and the average age of its buildings is 31 years.
The $79.9 million bond issue, if approved, would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $35 more a year in property taxes.
The Millard district has a record of bringing in bond issue projects on time and on budget, and Millard voters have shown strong support over the years for the partnership between schools and the community.
School officials have taken the “no” vote of 2011 to heart and are presenting a practical plan to meet real needs. This time, Millard voters should say “yes.”