Argument in Favor
of the Issuance of Bonds
Weber School District is the sixth largest in the state with nearly 32,000 students and our enrollment is growing. Student enrollment has grown by more than 1,500 students during the past 5 years and is anticipated to grow an additional 1,500 in the next 4 years. Indeed, school district patrons and taxpayers identify student growth as our district’s number one concern, according to surveys regarding the proposed bond conducted by an independent firm, focus groups, and Weber District online surveys. An additional high priority for survey respondents was adequate learning facilities for our students.
Those surveyed also expressed concern about the tax impact of bonds.
These three primary concerns of patrons and taxpayers were addressed by the Weber School Board when it passed a resolution asking voters to approve the issuance of a $97 million bond which would not increase tax rates at all, address student growth and keep up with aging facilities.
First, the Weber School Board has structured its proposal to minimize impact to taxpayers. The issuance of these bonds will require no tax rate increase. This is possible because outstanding bonds have been retired leaving capacity to layer in new commitments. Growth throughout the county also helps to allow new bonds to be funded with increased assessed values.
Second, in an effort to address rapid student growth throughout the county, two new elementary schools are proposed in high growth areas. Additionally, a 12 classroom addition will be added to Fremont High School. Significantly, prior to asking voters for bond monies, the Board implemented wide-spread boundary changes the past two years to maximize efficiency of existing schools. Despite these targeted boundary adjustments, new facilities are needed to handle burgeoning student growth. To further alleviate crowding at the district’s four traditional high schools, and to provide additional options for students and families, Weber District proposes an expansion of Weber Innovation High School. Weber Innovation High School is a magnet school focused on personalized learning using a blended model. Graduates from this school will have earned their associate degree and be highly prepared for college/career. Students from all district high schools are eligible to attend this cutting-edge school.
Lastly, as part of a multi-year replacement plan, Roy Junior High School, the oldest junior high in the district will be replaced by a modern, up-to-date facility.
The Weber School Board does not enter into bond elections without long range planning. The past two bond elections in 2006 and in 2012 were also undertaken with no tax rate increase and where both the need for new facilities and the need to replace aging facilities were accomplished. In the four bond elections held over the past twenty-five years, the Weber School Board has always kept its promises on both construction and tax rates. If the voters approve the current $97 Million bond, the Weber School Board will once again keep its promises with voters, parents and students. Providing a world-class education with modern superior facilities is the WEBER WAY.
the Issuance of Bonds
The proposed Weber School District bond is the right idea but with the wrong details. It is clear that the growth in our district has made it necessary to add schools and increase classroom capacity. Our community as a whole benefits when our students are well-educated.
The problem with the proposed bond is that it does not fully take into account the pattern of rapid growth that is occurring in the western portion of Weber County. A quick glance at a map showing the locations of the District’s current Junior High schools shows clearly that there is a cluster of existing Jr. High facilities in the southwest part of the district. In fact, Sandridge Jr High (2075 s 4600 S) and Roy Jr High (2100 w 5400 S) are located only 8 blocks apart! However, the distance from Rocky Mountain Jr High to the new Wahlquist Jr High (which is already at nearly 100% capacity) is over 12 ½ miles! The communities located in the current boundaries of Rocky Mountain and Wahlquist are experiencing explosive residential growth. The proposed bond addresses this growth at the Elementary level, but where will the students at those new elementary schools go once they complete 6th grade?
The students who currently attend Roy Jr High absolutely deserve and should be given the opportunity to attend school in a building that is safe and comfortable. However, this doesn’t mean that the only option to accomplish that goal is a new school in the same location. The District has repeatedly stated that the past 60 years have brought many changes that necessitate the replacement of the Roy Jr High building. Those years have also brought changes in the growth of our communities. These changes are the reason that building a new facility in the same location does not make sense for students or for taxpayers. Building the new Jr High in a location somewhere between Rocky Mountain and Wahlquist (an area where the District already owns several suitable parcels of land) will utilize the bond funds in a manner that will benefit our students for years to come.
As both a taxpayer and a parent I support giving our students the facilities that they need in order to receive an excellent education. Let’s not settle for a bond that is “good enough”. Our students and taxpayers deserve that we get it right. Let’s join together to provide a solution that is right for the long term good of our community – Vote NO on the proposed bond.
The Weber School District is pleased to receive public feedback and welcomes the opportunity to respond. Weber’s Board of Education is aware of the request from those in the West Haven area to build a junior high school in their community. However, rebuilding Roy Junior High in that area creates significant challenges. Currently, Roy Junior High enrolls 921 students. This represents an increase of 32 students over last year’s count. Sand Ridge enrollment also continues to grow. Their 2017 enrollment is 879—an increase of 70 students over last year.
Rebuilding Roy Junior High in the West Haven area would require the vast majority of students to be bused out of Roy and to the new school. In studying the proposal outlined in the argument, the board determined that opening a new junior high in West Haven with 1000 students would require approximately 80% of students to be transported. That additional transportation cost is extremely problematic.
In the near future, a new junior high in the West Haven community will be needed. In fact, the board listed it as a high priority in its discussion on bond projects. However, after surveying constituents, the board found that county-wide support for that proposal was significantly less because it would require a tax rate increase. The plan will be to have that West Haven junior high school as a high priority on the next bond. In the interim period, the district can continue managing growth throughout the West Haven area with existing facilities.