ST. GEORGE – The Washington County School District is asking voters to approve a bond allowing the district to borrow up to $185 million for the purpose of building new schools and renovating existing facilities. The bond, which will appear on the Nov. 5 ballot as Proposition 9, is not expected to raise taxes for most homeowners for the first four years after it is enacted.
“For a normal household, it will simply extend the taxes you currently pay through 2020,” Larry Bergeson, superintendent for the Washington County School District, said. Bergeson said that because old bonds are beginning to expire, the new bond shouldn’t change the property tax rate by very much. In fact, some homeowners will see their property taxes decline.
For example, a Washington County resident who owns a $225,000 home will see their property taxes decrease from 2015-2017, and an average increase of only $17.31 per year from 2018-2020, according to the school districts projections. After that, the tax rate is expected to decrease again.
The proposed bond is critical to the health of the community, Bergeson said. Washington County is growing yet again, and as the population swells, the school district must expand facilities to accommodate the projected influx of students. Over the next 15 years, Bergeson said, enrollment in the school district is expected to increase by nearly 7000 students.
Even if the population growth in Washington County doesn’t meet current projections, there are already enough students currently enrolled in local elementary schools to push the existing middle and high schools beyond their current capacity. If the proposition passes, the school district will issue bonds, as needed, to build new schools to meet this demand, and to expand and renovate current facilities over the next 15 years.
The bonds will only be issued as needed, said Bergeson. If the projected growth does not take place, the school district will not issue the bonds.
If the proposition fails, the school board will be forced to take unpopular measures to accommodate the growing student body, such as year-round schooling, split sessions, more portable classrooms, and increased class sizes. These solutions would create many difficulties for many families with multiple children. Some children will be on break while others are attending class, or one child may end up with a morning session, from 7:30 a.m. – 1 p.m., while another child may be scheduled in the afternoon, from 1 p.m. until 5:30 p.m.
“We can’t afford not to pass it,” Bergeson said. He recently met with the St. George Chamber of Commerce, and he said that the business community recognizes that the quality of the school system is vital to maintaining economic growth. “The first thing that people look at, when considering to move to a new place, is what the educational system looks like.
“St. George is growing,” Bergeson said. “We need to have the financial capabilities to provide for the needs of our students.”
Proposition 9 will appear on the November 5 ballot. Absentee ballots can be obtained by calling the county clerk’s office or by visiting the state’s voting information website.
- STGnews Voter’s guide for Municipal Elections 2013; Washington, Kane, Iron Counties
- Public meeting: Washington County Board of Education
- Public hearing notice: Washington County Board of Education, local special bond election
- Public notice: Washington County Board of Education meeting
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