Q: Isn’t the Vote No group to blame if we have split sessions?
A: Hardly. We have always advocated for faster solutions that avoided split sessions such as building onto Bonneville and Hillcrest or building a “lower campus.” Both could be completed so quickly that split sessions would have been avoided. The district said those ideas wouldn’t work, but then they turn around and incorporate these very solutions into their written 15 year plan. Middleton High School, which they intend to duplicate, has a lower campus building. Further, the district’s own plans show them adding on permanent classrooms to the high schools. In the past, our group warned that a new high school takes so long to build that a “vote yes” could put us in split sessions, and so a Yes vote actually could be a vote for split sessions.
Q: The election is over. Why don’t you move on?
A: Our tax hikes have just started, so every patron should actually be more engaged and ask the district for strict accountability during the spending of our $70.9 million. We all have been forced into take an interest in what is happening because we all will be paying for it. Besides, after the first 3 bonds were defeated, did anyone tell the Vote YES group to move on and leave the topic alone? No. While we accept that the bond finally passed, everyone should have an interest as the district moves forward. To “just go away”, as numerous bond supporters have suggested, would deny our place at the table while we are being charged to be there.
Q: The claim is being made the district actually may want split sessions. Why?
A: Some are speculating that the district might intentionally enact split sessions as a political tool to help their next bond pass. Although the district seems to have made varying claims about the timing for building a new middle school, it appears that district feels they won’t pass a future bond unless they force families first to struggle with split sessions. It could be sort of like the district playing that old hand squeezing game where someone finally yells “Uncle.” If we have no split sessions and no discomfort then the district may fear that voters will not give them a middle school. If there are other viable solutions like expanding the middles schools those should be looked at when the need to address the middle school issues arise. As things are going, we believe that the voters will probably be very upset at the district in the next few years if or when everyone’s taxes go up much more than the $1.75 promised by the district or the $1.31 promised in the Advocates radio ad. And it could be that if patrons feel they weren’t told the truth that could hurt future bonds passing. If that happens, the patrons may not pass a future bond unless there are split sessions going on- even if split sessions are not needed. We hope this speculation is just that.
Q: So can the district avoid split sessions, and if so, how?
A: Of course they can, if they want to. The easiest way is to turn the portables into teacher offices and utilize the dozens of classrooms each hour (up to 50!) for teaching instead of prepping. For a relatively cheap price we can get used office dividers and give each teacher a private soft-walled office in one of the portables. We can increase teaching classroom space by 33% by simply using the classrooms we already have for teaching. The other way is to speed up the building process is to build the new high school in 3 years or less, instead of the proposed 4 years. Other districts are completing a new high school, start to finish, in under 3 years. If our experts can’t do this we might have the wrong experts. We can also lower the project time by almost an entire year by reusing the plans of Madison, Rigby, or the new Logan high school. If they won’t sell us the plans, then we simply hire the firm who owns them to be our architect. If the district doesn’t want to find a way to build in less than 4 years that could be a sign that they really want to use split sessions to help them pass future bonds as described above. Time will tell on how this will play out. It’s clear: there are several quick and easy solutions to avoid split sessions altogether. If you like our ideas please email the school board. Their individual addresses are on the school district’s website under “school board”.
Q: But if we use every classroom for teaching at the current high schools there isn’t enough room in the lunch room, is there?
A: Yes, the high schools were designed to be full of students. A few years ago, according to a person who worked at the Bonneville Lunch room, they fed 800 students per day. When Michelle Obama’s guidelines were rolled out, that fell to 400 students per day. Last year it was about 500 students per day. There is plenty of room to feed the students, and students have always eaten in the commons area. The last resort is a split or staggered lunch schedule which many schools do today. We are convinced the district can avoid split sessions if they really want to.
Q: Any other thoughts on the new high school?
A: As we researched what other school districts are doing we just hope that D93 implements some of the best practices we are seeing, including bringing in experts in the building process to serve on an advisory committee. Others have set up a patron website with building updates which give strict accountability to the patrons on the project, with timelines, budget expenditures, etc. We think it is in everyone’s interest for the new high school to come in on time and under budget. We also believe that split sessions can easily be avoided if the district wants to avoid them.
Q: Are you still the vote No Group?
A: A better term might be “a watch dog” group. Again, as the community pays for this and other projects, all of us should be watch dogs, ensuring student and teacher needs are met, balanced with accountability to the patrons. We wish we could change our website address to reflect our role and concerns but we want to stay at the web address where our nearly 20,000 viewers know they can find us, and that is right here. Also, hundreds know our Facebook group name. But yes, we are a watch dog group and will be “watching” to see if the $1.75 increase is accurate. We still have not seen why the radio ads claimed a $1.31 increase. That is almost a 40% difference.
We received the following opinion via email: Dear Vote NO group, here is my opinion- The citizens of Ammon should be outraged that at least two illegal things have happened in our city. First, the Mayor and the Council violated state law by endorsing, in their roles as elected officials, a ballot measure. What is next, are they going to start endorsing candidates? As private citizens they can do whatever they want. But to come out on City stationary and do this while acting as elected officials is probably a felony. The law is pretty clear that they cannot use their office for ballot measures. What's also alarming is that their legal council may not be aware or might not have counseled them on this. What gets me is to see them deflect, almost brazenly, any questioning to this wrong doing. A few in the PTA may rally behind this illegal action and praise these elected officials for helping on a ballot issue, but it is still wrong. This is just a bad precedent and the time will come when they will endorse something or a candidate that you won’t like. What will you do then, after letting them get away with “Ammon-gate”? The second part that burns me is using taxpayer money to pay for their mailing. What is fair game? Should the mayor like a particular presidential candidate, will she and the council put fliers in our utility bills for that candidate, all paid for by us? Campaigning for or against something that is on the ballot with taxpayer money is as illegal as anything I can think of. This isn't telling us the date of Ammon Days, this isn't tell us when snow plowing is, or other any other city business. That is what our taxes should be used for- ONLY city business. But a regional or national political ballot issue is absolutely off limits to spend my tax money on. And to claim it cost $280 is a bald-faced lie. Can we do a mailing for just $280 to get my product or business advertised to all people in our fair town? If I run for office or have a ballot issue I am concerned about - could I put that in the next utility bill for just $280? Can any resident add a flier for just $280? If the answer is no, then we have a 3rd major problem. Not only did the Mayor and Council endorse a ballot issue using their elected position to do so, and not only did they spend my tax money to do it, but then they also used their elected position to access the utility bills and include their preferred items. If all citizens are not allowed to insert their political items into the utility bills for just $280, then the 3rd error as I see it is that they used their elected position to gain access to city services and privileges that are not accessible to the rest of Ammon citizens. Using their elected office to gain special privileges to city resources seems to be as illegal as spending taxpayer money. And I believe the gravity of these three errors should be enough to have the Mayor and her council fined and possibly jailed. I hope the residents will look past what the ballot issue was and consider the legalities and whether it is right for elected officials to use their privilege to access the city mailing in a way other citizens cannot. Is it right to spend taxpayer money on political mailings regarding regional ballot issues? I say, no way. Please join me and calling the secretary of state and county attorney’s office today. This is corruption at the local level and I will not stand for it!
District 93 has recently announced that the new high school won’t open for nearly 4 years.
In 2014, D93 patrons were told that if the bond passed, we would not have split sessions. In the spring of 2015, we were told by district leaders in a TV interview that if the bond passed, there would probably be no split sessions. Now they say there WILL be 2 years of split sessions. This begs the question: WHY? The bond was passed in 2015. Is it retaliation? And why doesn’t the school open until the fall of 2019, almost 4 years from now?
School districts all over the country are building high schools in 3 years or less. For example, Alabaster, Alabama, did it. And the school district in Johnston, Iowa, built their high school in under 32 months, start to finish! BYU-ID often constructs educational buildings in less than 1 year. Same for county and government buildings.
The first and most obvious way to build our high school faster is to re-use plans from an existing school. Our current architect wants almost a full year to draw up customized plans. We are unsure that he has ever designed a high school, or has even seen plans for a high school.
Can we buy plans for nearby, recently built high schools? If not, maybe we should hire an architect who designed one of these schools, as they would have both experience and plans all ready to go.
If that is not possible, then at least we need to push the process along and set strict timelines. It happens all the time in the building industry. If our current hired experts cannot do what other districts have done throughout the country – open in just under 3 years – we should find people who can.
And if we can open in fall of 2018, we should be able to delay imposing split sessions in Fall, 2017, by simply using ALL high school classrooms for teaching and NOT for teacher prepping. Remember, 1/4 of all classrooms sit empty every hour of the school day, totalling about 45 classrooms at any given time.
It will take planning, but we feel it is possible to avoid split sessions all together.
We are saddened that the district administrators finally wore down a community with four contentious bond elections in 20 months. D93 Citizens were outspent 100 to 1, and yet it took 4 tries to pass. Our efforts, however, were not in vain because we saved the community about $40 million in interest over the high school portion of the first 2014 bond.
However, bond supporters are going to be very surprised at the high cost of the next bond, which will likely be for a middle school, in the near future.
The biggest question now is: will the district shave a year off of split sessions by cutting their construction time to two years by reusing the plans of Madison High School instead of taking a full year to custom design their own extravagant, expensive building? If they insist on adding that unnecessary extra year, parents and children will suffer needlessly.
...to learn why the District 93 school bond is the WRONG solution for our district, our children, our businesses, and our community.
Please take a moment to view the Bond Fact Checker using the link in the left sidebar.
For early voting information, please click the link at the top of the page.
D93 CITIZENS POSTCARD
VOTE NO AGAIN
FOR CHILDREN, TAXPAYERS, BUSINESSES & THE COMMUNITY!
Did you know?
THE PROPOSED BOND IS THE MOST EXPENSIVE SOLUTION for overcrowding. This is Supt. SHACKETT’s fourth attempt at ramming a new high school down taxpayers’ throats. Don’t swallow Shackett’s Kool-Aid.
VOTE NO AGAIN TUESDAY NOV. 3
*More information and documentation at VoteNoD93Bond.com
HOW MUCH WILL YOU PAY FOR THE
MOST EXPENSIVE HIGH SCHOOL BOND EVER
IN SE IDAHO???
Using D93’s own figures*:
Total of both bonds + interest: $70.9 million
Levy rate for new bond: .00125
Now multiply the levy by the taxable property value
Owners of a $150,000 home
(taxable value $75,000) will pay an additional $7.81/month and $93.75/yr
($1640 over 17.5 yrs)
Owners of a $250,000 home
(taxable value $155,255) will pay an additional
$16/month and $194/yr
($3395 over 17.5 yrs)
WHY DIDN’T D93 TELL YOU THE WHOLE TRUTH???
VOTE NO AGAIN
TUESDAY, NOV. 3, 8AM-8PM
Polling Place Info: 529-1363 or idahovotes.gov
As has been stated many times,
So each person who is about
l Question 1 (Q1). Do you
l Question 2 (Q2). If D93
l Question 3 (Q3). If D93
l Question 4 (Q4). DO YOU
l Question 5 (Q5). Are you
to your current payments
The above questions are not
(Q1 and Q2) On D93’s bond
(Q3) It is probably accurate
(Q4) This question is in
And finally (Q5),
There are many issues to
District 93 is growing and District 91 is shrinking. So why not shift the boundary line or combine districts to better utilize the classrooms we have already built instead of doubling our debt?
This request is answered with a simple "it won't work because patrons in both districts would have to agree to take on each other’s debt" and no one dives deeper into the issue because it sounds like it won't work.
Wait a minute. Let's look past the spin. What does this look like if put to the voters?
First, if district 91 takes on half of our debt and we take on half of their debt it might be a wash. It's not the total debt per district that needs to be looked at but rather the levy rate and debt divided over the tax base.
The districts don't want to do the math. The cost to the voters will probably be significantly less than taking on 55 million in new debt we all have to pay back. And most important, because a combined district would need only one administration and one school board, NO leaders in either district will voluntarily give up ANY of their power.
So we will have a fancy new high school while district 91 has empty classrooms. Our taxes skyrocket. Theirs eventually goes down.
And all because no one looked beyond the spin to see what a boundary shift or district combination would actually mean in dollar and cents to patrons in both districts.
Today's radio ad says that by 2021 there will be 4000 high school students in D 93 and therefore we have to have a new high school. False- 150 will drop out, 300 will go to Lincoln, 300 will go to Technical Careers, 150 will be online, 100 will have work release or classes at EITC, and 250 will be in Seminary at any given time. We need to house less than 2900 students. With 38-50 empty classrooms right now due to teacher prep, we actually have enough room for growth in student numbers today and do not need a new high school. And if we don’t have space for them, we can just build on as the district announced they plan to do in the future anyway. Save $50 million, vote no.
Yes, the taxpayers are treated like District 93's Sugar Daddies by the District's administration with their overspending.
For example, real estate purchased by administration from 2004 to 2014 totaled 332.18 acres with a total cost of $6,817,985.94. Also, some District property was traded for other property plus an added payment of $35,000 for an unknown cost for one additional piece. District 93 patrons paid $20, 525 per acre plus the value of the land traded for mostly farmland, normally selling for $5,000 to $6,000 per acre. We paid three times the average cost.
Expensive trailer classroom purchases are also obvious examples of paying too much. About $2,800,000.00 has been spent that could have been used to add permanent classrooms if wise planning for long term classrooms had been provided.
This Sugar Daddy mentality seems recurrent with the proposed $70,900,000.00 total building/interest cost for our District administration's upcoming high school bond. Is ego achievement more important than saving tax payers' money? Instead of spending too much for a new high school, why not add much less expensive classrooms to existing buildings. There is room.
At taxpayer expense, with School Board approval, we are forced to pay for Shackett's family health coverage when all other District employees have to pay for dependent insurance. Also, we are paying for his transportation to and from Shelley where he chooses to live.
If you are tired of being a Sugar Daddy, Vote No to defeat this fourth bond attempt.
Jerry Hansen, Resident of Iona for 50 years and farmer/rancher
And the legal troubles of the Ammon mayor and city council are further deepened in consideration of the legal guidelines issued by the Idaho Attorney General’s Office, included below. A brief quote from cited case law from the New York Supreme Court reads thus:
It would be establishing a dangerous and untenable precedent to
permit the government or any agency thereof, to use public funds to
disseminate propaganda in favor of or against any issue or candidate. This
may be done by totalitarian, dictatorial, or autocratic governments, but
cannot be tolerated, directly or indirectly, in these democratic United
States of America. This is true even if the position advocated is believed
to be in the best interest of our country.
Hmmm. What does that say about Ammon City leaders?
See the full Attorney General's opinion below.
In fact, they are so inaccurate that other elected officials, including an Ammon city councilman, wrote in the Oct. 29 newspaper, “the total monthly cost to taxpayers will be only $1.75 per month per $100,000 in taxable value”. This is a gross misrepresentation and doesn’t even come close to the true cost to taxpayers. And how can it be that a $55 million high school bond will raise your taxes by $1.75/month, when a measly $8 million bond will cost $1.17/month? The answer is simple: it doesn’t. It is a fabrication.
The true cost is about $10.45/month, or about $2200 in total for every $100,000 in taxable value. We have it broken down (see Guest Editorial: Figuring the True Cost to Taxpayers of the D93 Bonds on this website).
On the website you can also see several options that would eliminate the need for a new high school, the most expensive public school to build. (Click on "Additional Options" at the top of the page.) You can also view the School Board Minutes from their Aug. 27, 2015 work session which reveals their plan to propose up to 7 additional bonds, which will raise your taxes as many times.
It seems they will say anything to drown us in unnecessary debt. If the last bond was going to raise your taxes $4.92 per month, and this similar bond is just $1.75 per month, will the next bond be no taxes at all? Or maybe they’ll pay US! We are smarter than this. When you spend $55 million and ask the community to pay for it, it will raise your taxes – a lot!
Again, see VoteNoD93Bond.com for details. Ask everyone you meet to VOTE NO on November 3rd. We don’t need crazy spending. And taxpayers deserve the truth, without exception.
It is not about students
It is not about education
ALL BOND ELECTIONS ARE ABOUT THE PEOPLE AUTHORIZING THE GOVERNMENT TO INCUR NEW DEBT! Nothing more.
This Bond election is only about authorizing our elected school board to borrow a lot of money to incur a huge new debt for all of us.
It is about borrowing more than $55,300,000 million dollars that we don’t need to borrow.
It is also about borrowing over $8,200,000 for a new sports stadium.
If we authorize them to borrow this money, create this debt, that result will be over $70, 000,000 dollars in debt with interest.
Like all debts, this is a debt we must pay back.
Our school district is already over $50,000,000 dollars in debt.
If we approve this bond, we will be more than $120,000,000 in debt.
That is One Hundred and Twenty MILLION dollars.
(Those are their own “adjusted” numbers. The raw numbers are $77, 330,000 and $11, 260,000 for a total bond debt of $88,590,000. Add it to the existing $50 million and you get a grand total of $138,590,000 in debt.)
And, they have already admitted that there is more debt to come - possibly one hundred million dollars MORE.
So, this bond election does not specify or authorize a single classroom. Not a single brick. It only authorizes the school board to incur a huge debt on all of us. The sad part is that they already have enough of your money to build all the classrooms and teaching space we need now - without more debt.
And, if we authorize them to borrow this money, less than half of that debt money would go to building dedicated teaching and classroom space. The majority of the money would go to construction of administrative, entertainment and public spaces and a host of other extracurricular and peripheral facilities not directly related to teaching or education. With interest, this bond election gives them your permission to increase our debt to over one hundred million dollars and then build whatever they want to as long as they call it a high school.
Since the beginning of our country we, and especially including the government, have been advised and counseled by the framers of the Constitution and our economic and ecclesiastical leaders to avoid debt as we would avoid an enemy. Debt is our enemy. Debt is our master. Debt destroys our freedom.
Do not authorize the school board to force us all into a huge new level of debt
Vote NO on this bond election.
Tell them NO to more debt.
Then with them - or without them – let’s focus on building an educational system in this district we can afford and which will educate our young people the best way possible.
District 93 officials are touting their two November bonds as raising taxes a tiny amount each month. That is smoke and mirrors, using accounting gimmicks.
But first consider this: if you have a mortgage, chances are you don’t see your tax bill or know what you already pay D93. Only one bill is sent to your mortgage company, and you pay them each month to submit your property taxes. Thus, property taxes are essentially invisible to mortgage holders. Shouldn’t you discover how much you already pay D93 before you vote EVERYONE a huge tax hike?
Now look at some facts about the proposed bond. If you own a $150,000 home, subtract the homeowners’ exemption to arrive at a taxable value of $75,000. Multiply $75,000 by the tax levy rate of .00125, and see a tax debt of $94/year, or $7.84/month. That is a 350% increase over the $2.19/month the district claims. The total bond payment is $1646, not $459 as D93 asserts. How about that $250,000 home? With a taxable value of $155,255, the bond cost will actually be $16.23/month. That’s a whopping 950% increase over the $3.92/month the district alleges. Over 17.5 years the cost will be $3407, not the purported $355.
Why the difference? It’s an accounting ploy D93 is using to cover the true cost of the bond. D93 is taking into account debt that is being paid down, and only reporting what you will pay ABOVE current tax payments. The truth is that your taxes would GO DOWN with no new debt. However, your taxes will be raised by the full amount, according to law.
These are the first 2 of 6 bonds D93 projects for the next 15 years, which total $223.8 million. Today you already pay property taxes on $50 million in D93 debt. This mushroom in district debt represents an almost 450% increase, and property taxes will follow suit.
Actually, no one knows how much anyone will be paying for any bonds in the future. The district relies on predictions of generous growth in taxable property in the district, with huge construction, and a rosy forecast for the economy for the next 15 years. This doesn’t account for recessions, presidential elections, war, natural disaster, etc. If there is less growth in the district, YOU will be left holding the bag.
There are less expensive alternatives that are safe and quick. Last May, D93 Citizens proposed adding on to high schools now. D93 actually plans to do that - in 10 years (see minutes to the D93 Aug. 27 work meeting). Let’s do it now.
Vote no November 3 and demand a better, cheaper, quicker solution with no split sessions!
Here is chapter and verse:
Idaho Constitution, Article VII
SECTION 10. MAKING PROFIT FROM PUBLIC MONEY PROHIBITED. The making of profit, directly or indirectly, out of state, county, city, town, township or school district money, or using the same for any purpose not authorized by law, by any public officer, shall be deemed a felony, and shall be punished as provided by law.
Last time I checked, a felony was actually a CRIME. Call the Bonneville County Prosecutor at (208) 529-1348 and read him this section of the constitution. Then ask him for the definition of "felony".
Kudos to KIFI's Chelsea Brentzel for this excellent story that ran at 10pm on Oct. 29. Sadly, the Ammon mayor was given the final word in the Friday morning story. She makes the claim that the letter only encourages Ammon residents to vote. You read the letter again, and decide if that's the case. It includes this:
“As city leaders we urge the community to come together. The current bond is a reasonable compromise, and an answer to continuing the tradition of academic excellence District 93 has provided our constituents. As a Mayor and Council we, each personally, support the high school bond set for November 3.”
Six reasons for supporting the bond are then listed. If this isn't an endorsement, please explain what it IS?
In what is being called the “biggest scandal in Ammon’s history”, it appears the City of Ammon’s elected leaders violated state law and constitution, and misused public money on a recent political mailer promoting the Nov. 3 school bond. If Mayor Kirkham had used taxpayer money to buy a diamond ring or take the city council to Hawaii, would you be upset? Well, you should be just as upset to learn they spent tons of your tax money apparently violating state law and the Idaho Constitution.
Kirkham and crew should resign. Then they should apologize. Then they should pay back the city for all costs for that mailer. Then the county prosecutor or secretary of state should fine them.
The election should be voided. It has been tainted with illegal campaign contributions and promotion. And the media should make this front page and leading story material. Remember how one local sheriff paid for a cell phone for his wife with county money and in return, got jail time? This is a much bigger issue than a cell phone.
We urge you to contact:
GUEST EDITORIAL: District 93's Supt. Charles Shackett
Disregards Public Concerns
Supt. Charles Shackett showed callous disregard for family finances when he proposed a new high school and a new middle school bond in 2014. This bond for more than $90,000,000 came with additional finance charges of $103,000,000. Patrons wisely defeated this bond proposal with an 85% NO vote.
In 2015, Shackett's crew issued a second proposal for an expensive and unnecessary high school bond. It too was rejected by voters.
A third bond proposal was attempted by Shackett in 2015, and voters wisely refused this unnecessary debt for a third time. Because the vote was close to the necessary two-thirds requirement, Shackett has orchestrated a fourth bond attempt this November by claiming only an average household tax increase of about $2 a month.
This is misleading and misrepresents the truth. The actual costs over the life of the proposed bond will be about $3,000 for a typical home in this district. The truth? Our taxes will increase more than $20 per month when the savings from a retiring bond is considered. This fact has not been clearly stated prior to this or to any of the bond attempts.
Additional classrooms are needed, but District 93 refused alternate proposals which would have reduced family taxes by millions. Claiming the majority of voters want the new high school, Shackett hopes tired voters will approve his fourth high school bond attempt.
The truth? Less than 1/3 of District patrons voted to pass the high school bond in the last two attempts. Your NO vote could help encourage the District to provide needed classrooms without unnecessary expenses of a new high school. Do not let others make you feel guilty if you decide to vote against this expensive high school bond.
The truth? A large population growth in District 93 is filling our schools with new students. We cannot afford neighborhood high schools; District 93 can add classrooms to existing schools to provide additional classrooms for a small fraction of building new schools.
Millions could be saved by delaying a third high school. However, we need to plan for larger middle and high schools that can provide facilities for 2,000 students. Schools much larger than these get measureable student learning as good or better than ours. The Solutions Group supported Jeff Bird's proposal for a less expensive but larger middle school which would have met secondary needs when complemented with additional classroom buildings at Bonneville and Hillcrest (restrooms included).
Vote NO on this fourth attempt to pass bonds for unnecessary new schools and help District 93 leadership develop less expensive quality educational opportunities and facilities for our students. VoteNoD93Bond.com
District 93 has already given us the solution to overcrowding: BUILD ON TO THE EXISTING HIGH SCHOOLS. Don’t believe it? Go to p. 10 of the minutes of the School Board August 27 Work Meeting, linked from this page, or available below. Then carefully peruse their 15 Year Plan.
Supt. Shackett and the School Board will inflict split sessions in the fall of 2017 if this bond passes. That’s a guarantee. They say a new high school won't open until Fall, 2019. That's two years of split sessions, courtesy D93 leadership.
However, if this bond fails, the district can quickly bond for about $12 million to add on to the existing high schools, which they already plan to do in 2025. This cost figure is D93’s own, calculated by multiplying their current cost for adding on to 3 high schools by 2/3’s.
VOTE NO! Add on to both high schools. Simple, quick, and ALREADY IN CHUCK SHACKETT’S PLAN!
Did you know that high school additions are already being planned by Supt. Shackett and the school board? Take a look at the Aug. 27, 2015, minutes, found below (go to page 10 of the minutes).
It should be of interest to voters to know how D93 responded when the D93 Citizens group proposed adding on to high schools or building stand-alone classroom buildings before the May, 2015, bond. Chuck Shackett called the plan for stand-alone classroom buildings unsafe (heaven forbid that students should walk outside!), and claimed the "core capacities" of Hillcrest and Bonneville would not sustain the additional students housed in either type of classroom additions. These solutions to overcrowding were summarily rejected.
Fast forward to the August 27 D93 school board work session, where their 15 Year Plan was unveiled. Clearly featured is this item: 2025-2026, Classroom additions at three high schools ( 32 rooms), completed 2027, cost in today's dollars $18.4 million.
Seems to the average person that if this is a safe plan for our children in 2025, it is safe today. If we use that figure of $18.4 million needed to add on to three high schools, it would cost about $12 million to build on to our existing two high schools today.
VOTE NO to tell D93 to ADD ON TO HIGH SCHOOLS TODAY TO SAVE TAXPAYERS MILLIONS!
And about those students actually walking outside - please remember that students walk from cars and buses to the school. Junior high students walk from buses at Hillcrest to Sandcreek. High school students walk to seminary buildings. Even teachers occasionally brave the dangers to walk to and from their vehicles.
Tired of the dodging, deception, and obfuscation of the D93 story? Every statement they issue is carefully designed to support their favorite project of the day. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT believe anything you are told by a D93 official without fact-checking it with an independent source.
It's not clear why anyone would accept any number provided by D93 officials, but just for the moment, let's go through this exercise. D93 claims that construction costs have increased, and continue to increase, 4% per year.
If that is true, then the existing Hillcrest High School, which cost about $10 million in 1990, should cost $26.6 million today. Let's be generous and say construction costs have gone up 5.6% per year. In that case, a new Hillcrest today would cost - you guessed it - $39 million. (Go ahead - ask an accountant. I did.)
The amount D93 estimates taxpayers will pay for their proposed bonds is based on their assumption that there will be 4% growth in market value. Please read their fact sheet. It’s full of nuggets.
D93 tells us actual average growth in market value over the last 20 years has been 7.5%. Then they tell us the market growth rate in 2014 was only 4.8%. Why the sudden 36% drop? Well, just remember what was happening 20 years ago in 1995. We were in an era of huge growth and prosperity. I hope you also remember what happened in 2008. Most area homes haven’t regained their pre-2008 value even today.
The 2014 growth rate of 4.8% is a significant drop below the 20 year average. What if we drop another 3% and have a market value growth rate of only 1 or 2%?
The point is this: D93 wants you to believe that 20 yrs of data provide a safe projection of future growth. However, when we see that the growth just last year was 36% less than the 20 year average, we learn that it is NOT a reliable or SAFE predictor of future market growth in D93.
And what happens if the market value continues to shrink? D93 must still collect enough money from property owners to make payments on their bonds, pay teachers, and operate schools. That means that taxpayers will have an increased levy rate, which means that for every dollar of taxable value, taxpayers will pay MORE, potentially MUCH more! Yes, you read that right: YOUR PAYMENTS WILL GO UP. D93 has absolutely no control over the taxable value of property in the district.
The county assessor values all property in the county, according to state law.
D93 must make their bond payments, and they must operate the schools. They WILL get their money from taxpayers, and they don’t care who pays it. Remember that legally levied taxes carry the weight of law. You will pay or you will lose your property, as have many because of high taxes in District 93. If you don’t believe this, you don’t read the legal notices in the newspaper. Try it sometime. it's good to have a dose of reality occasionally.
The D93 Solutions committee was taken on quite a ride by D93 administration and school board members when they were asked for capacity and attendance numbers for district secondary schools . The Solutions committee requested these numbers in order to determine how to shape their proposal for a middle school.
The Solutions committee suggested subtracting 100's of students who attend LDS seminaries every hour, students who take online classes, and those enrolled in the technical high school and alternative high schools. Some of these students never set foot in the existing high schools. Add to this the fact that most classrooms are empty 25% of every school day while teachers take their prep period at their classroom desks. Clearly, these factors mean 100’s of students are NOT in class each hour, and should NOT be counted in calculating school capacity.
So how did D93 officials respond to the Solutions committee questions? School board members and district employees decided it was simply too difficult to run the numbers to determine how many students actually need to be accommodated each day in D93 high schools. So they reverted to the capacity numbers that were advertised when Bonneville High and Hillcrest High were constructed. This fits their narrative better, of course, and skews the facts.
Basically, this means the school district is getting away without doing an honest accounting of the number of students who are actually in the schools at any given time. This is a cop out, and is resulting in dishonest numbers on which D93 has based the proposed school bonds.
If D93 cannot, or is unable to, tell the truth about how many students attend secondary schools in the district, what else are they not telling you?
It's shocking - anyone who has a mortgage on a home in D93 has probably NEVER seen their tax statement from Bonneville County. I learned today that the County Treasurer's office sends out only one copy of your property tax bill each year, and if you have a mortgate, that goes to your mortgage company, not you. Your property tax is included in your monthly mortgage payments, and your mortgage company pays your taxes to the county each year. You never have to see the bill, or write out the check. Thus, property taxes are essentially invisible to mortgage holders. You, a property owner in D93, are already paying your share of the current $50 million in debt that D93 has acquired, even though you may not even know it. Shouldn’t you discover how much you already pay D93 before you vote EVERYONE a huge tax hike?
District 93 officials have been quick to tout their two November high school bonds as raising your taxes only $2.19 per month for a $150,000 home, or $3.92 per month for a $250,000 home. This is not exactly true. (*See below for HOW TO FIGURE A LEVY RATE)
If you have a $150,000 home, when you subtract the homeowners exemption (for 2015, that’s half of the value of your home up to a maximum of $89,580), you have a taxable value of $75,000. Multiply $75,000 by the tax levy rate of .00125431225, and you have a tax debt of $94.07 each year, or $7.84 per month. That is quite a bit higher than the $26.28 per year, or $2.19, per month the district claims. In fact, that’s 350% more than the district claims. Your total bond payment will come to $1646.23, not the $459.90 they assert.
How about that $250,000 home? With a taxable value of $155,255, your bond cost will actually be $194.74 per year, or $16.23 per month. That’s also a little higher than the $47.04 per year or $3.92 per month than they told you. Your total bond payment will come to $3407.95, not the district’s number of $355.50. You’ll pay 950% more than the district claims. Feeling generous yet?
Why the difference? It’s an accounting gimmick D93 is using to cover the true cost of the bond. They are taking into account debt that is being paid down, and only telling you what you will pay ABOVE your current tax levels. The truth is that your taxes would GO DOWN if no new debt was acquired. So your taxes are being raised by the full amount as described above, not the few dollars D93 claims.
They are assuming you aren’t smart enough to understand the truth. If you ARE smart enough to see through their gimmicks, VOTE NO on November 3.
*HOW TO FIGURE A LEVY RATE: In simple terms, a tax levy rate is determined by dividing the total market value of property in the district by the total amount of the bond + interest, and then dividing again by the pay-off term for the bond. Using the district’s own numbers, here’s the calculation: $70.9 million (total of both bonds + interest) divided by $3.23 billion (total market value), and then divide again by 17.5 (bond pay-off term). The answer is a tax levy rate of .00125431225….This is the figure that is multiplied by the taxable value of your home.
The D93 Solutions committee was comprised of engineers, business people, and others knowledgeable in construction and planning.
Members of the Solutions committee had spent 100’s of hours with school board members, district employees and each other crunching the numbers and refining their proposed solution to secondary school overcrowding so it would represent actual real-world facts.
School board member Jeff Bird and the D93 Solutions committee presented their proposal for solving secondary school overcrowding at an August board meeting. (Minutes here.) The proposal was a middle school that would house grades 7-9, and free up 25% of the existing high schools, delaying the need for a new high school for up to 10 years, without raising the amount taxpayers currently pay.
Instead of listening with open minds, the other members of the school board and Supt. Shackett blew off the presentation with prepared speeches, completely ignored facts and figures, and rejected the proposal outright, without giving the group the dignity of an actual discussion or the gesture of any kind of compromise. Shackett himself later commented that “The D93 Solutions Committee is discredited.” What an interesting comment from Supt. Shackett in referring to school district patrons, voters and taxpayers who had come forward in good faith.
It became abundantly obvious that Shackett and the school board were merely going through the motions of considering any proposal other than their own. Now they could claim they had “thoroughly vetted” the Solutions committee proposal, without actually having given it any more thought than to prepare their rejection speeches.
What does this say about the leadership of D93?
To read posts from the last three bond campaigns, please click on the "Archives" tab at the top of this page.