By Julie Johansen
Emery School District’s October meeting on Wednesday evening began with a public hearing to allow interested parties to present ideas or questions regarding the issuance of a general obligation bonds.
District business administrator Jackie Allred gave a brief history, stating that the district has been considering the needs for updating facilities for over ten years. During this time it was determined that the most urgent needs were found at Emery High School, Ferron Elementary, and additions at Book Cliff Elementary in Green River.
In 2013, VCBD Architecture determined these needs. The last bond election was held in 1996 and the district has been debt free for the last ten years.
Emery High School was built in 1961 with additions in 1970, 1982 and 1989. It was designed for 300 hundred students and now serves over 600. Allred reported that although maintenance has done an excellent job keeping things looking nice, the roof, sewer, electrical, water and all infrastructure are all antiquated with over 50 years of use.
Ferron Elementary was built in 1964 with remodels in 1966 and 1981. It still uses part of the old South Emery High building. The water and sewer here are no longer available so rerouting is necessary.
Book Cliff Elementary was built in 1975 and has been using portable classrooms. The cost to maintain and upgrade buildings is more than the current capital outlay budget and all schools need updates. The proposed replacements and additions are scheduled as phase one with others to follow in the future.
The new building at Ferron Elementary is designed to be built on the southwest corner of the block where the present building sits. A new high school will be built to include the present auditorium and Spartan Center, extending on to the football field. New ball fields, a stadium and parking lots will be built to the south of the new building. Architecture drawings and planned replacements can be viewed at the district’s website at www.emeryschools.org.
Questions from the public were directed toward the increase of property taxes. Answers stated that citizens of the county would see about a $130 per year increase on a $120,000 home and about $230 on a business of the same value.
Some stated construction costs are at an all time high but the architect replied that in his 13 years of working with school districts, the interest rates are lower now, especially if the bond was issued by the beginning of 2021.
Next, a teacher from Emery High voiced the need for testing centers at the high school to give students a better opportunity.
A concerned citizen then questioned the availability of federal assistance in the form of grants. District personnel replied that it is a local responsibility to build new buildings. Emery County Commissioner Kent Wilson replied that they would be meeting with Representative John Curtis and they would inquire if anything was available.
The bond has a 20-year maturity date and comments were made to pay it off quickly before the county loses its mineral base or power plants.
The public hearing closed with comments that the bond election is very important to the students of Emery County.