Weber School District identifies five projects as priorities

Tuesday , October 10, 2017 - 4:00 AM1 comment

DR. JEFF STEPHENS, special to the Standard-Examiner

On Tuesday, Nov. 7, voters in Weber County will decide whether to approve a $97 million bond for the Weber School District. The bond election will not require an increase to the tax rate. That is possible because the district will gradually issue new bonds as older bonds are paid off. Following extensive public input through district online surveys, focus groups and an independent survey, the Weber School Board identified the following projects as the highest priorities:

  1. A new elementary school near Remuda to ease pressure from Farr West Elementary.
  2. A new elementary school in Pleasant View to ease pressure from Majestic Elementary.
  3. A 12-classroom addition at Fremont High School to increase its permanent capacity.
  4. An addition at Weber Innovation High School to increase its capacity.
  5. A rebuild of Roy Junior High School, which is now more than 60 years old.

Each of these projects is critical to continue to manage aging facilities and to keep up with rapid student growth— an increase of more than 700 students this year alone. Even with the passage of this bond and completion of these projects, there remains additional capital needs within our school district.

For example, in the very near future, we know we will need a new elementary school to ease pressure from Kanesville Elementary, as well as a new junior high in West Haven. Additionally, we know that Roosevelt Elementary and T.H. Bell Junior High School are in need of replacement. Finally, we are very close to needing an additional high school as Roy, Fremont and Weber are nearing their permanent capacities.

Adding those projects to this bond, however, would require a substantial tax rate increase and surveys indicated that while there was good support for schools and bonding in general, that support decreased when accompanied by a tax rate increase. Over the past 20 years, the Weber School District has proposed a series of smaller, more incremental bond projects that have not required tax rate increases. This pattern has served both our students and taxpayers well and enabled the school board to manage both enrollment growth and aging facilities.

During the past six weeks, district officials have made more than 55 community presentations related to the bond. In each of our schools, we have met with staff members, PTA leaders, community councils, and interested citizens as we presented information and answered bond-related questions. Further, we have presented at city council meetings in Farr West, Pleasant View, Roy and Washington Terrace. We have met with local civic groups such as United Way, Breakfast Exchange and Rotary to discuss this bond. Finally, the Weber School Board has held two public hearings to gather additional feedback. This has given us a unique opportunity to receive tremendous input from our constituents, which we very much appreciate, and we encourage continued feedback.

The Weber Board of Education asks for your support in this upcoming election. The children of our community will be the beneficiaries of that support!

Dr. Jeff Stephens is superintendent for the Weber School District. Email: jstephens@wsd.net.

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