REXBURG, Idaho (KIFI) – Madison School District 321 is seeking $25.5 million bond on March 8.
The bond would fund three projects: building a new school for Hibbard Elementary and renovating the current school for early childhood and kindergarten programs. The third would add new classrooms and expand Madison Junior High’s current dining hall.
Superintendent Randy Lords says the current Hibbard School has a capacity of 200.
“Our building is full. We don’t have an empty classroom,” Lords said. “We added a kindergarten classroom this year and put them in a trailer in the back. A portable, which portable classrooms for learning aren’t great in the first place, but for kindergarten, that’s not a good option.”
The new building would seat 500 and would be directly west in a field behind the current school, on land the district already owns.
Lords also explained why they weren’t just adding to the current school.
“We met with our architect and our structural engineers. And they said ‘although it could be done, we wouldn’t recommend it,'” Lords said. “It’s a good building, but to start adding eight new classrooms, a gym and other things, it really didn’t make sense to do that when we could build a new building with everything. which we need.”
The plan would also make it easier to protect students, staff and visitors from traffic.
“The current school is right up the road,” Lords said. “So when you come out of the teachers’ parking lot or the visitor’s parking lot, you’re backing up on a 50-mile-per-hour road where people are traveling.”
Lords says it wasn’t as bad 10 years ago, but as the area develops so does the traffic.
“We’re lucky and we feel lucky and blessed that something didn’t happen with an accident,” Lords said. “It worries me every day.”
The plan to turn the current Hibbard School into a center for early years and kindergarten programs would also help free up space at other schools, Lords said.
“This will free up four classrooms at Burton Elementary and one at Kennedy,” Lords said. “This will help us cope with the continued growth of both schools.”
As for Madison Jr. High’s plan, nine new classrooms would be added and a hallway to help with congestion.
“There really is an artery between the dining hall and the math and science wing,” Lords said. “And so during transition times with, you know, 500 to 600 kids trying to get into that math wing and that science wing, it gets a little crowded. So we’re going to add another thoroughfare. Another route to go. A bit of an atrium-type look, which is what we plan to do.”
Some people may be reluctant to go on bail for fear of increased taxes, but Lords says that is not the case.
“Six months ago (the rate was) $4.50 per thousand. And we’ve actually lowered it because of growth in Rexburg,” Lords said. “We were able to lower our tax levy rate to $4.25 per thousand. And so we’re trying to focus on maintaining that so people know exactly what their tax bill is going to be. So our goal is to maintain that over there.”
Lords also says community growth will help offset this tax burden.
He also says that if the bond passes now, it would save everyone money.
“What concerns me are the prices. Right now it’s $25.5,” Lords said. “In a year, I guess, we would probably be looking at 30 to 35 (million). The need doesn’t go away and the prices don’t come down. And with what we get from the state for new buildings, which is very little, if at all.It falls on a local tax base.
Lords also says he’s grateful for what the community has done in the past when it comes to Bonds and hopes that will continue.
“We hear some people say ‘well, my kids don’t go to school anymore.’ Well, somebody paid for their kids in school when they went,” Lords said. “But the way the framers of the Constitution intended it was that we as a community would pay for the education of our children. And those children are our future.”
Lords asks those with questions or concerns to contact him.
“Come out, take a look at Hibbard,” Lords said. “Call me. I’m ready to talk to everyone about the need for our buildings. And what the state reimburses us for, and how it’s up to the local public to help in this way.”
More information on the link can be found here.