A legislative proposal currently under consideration in the Idaho House could have a significant impact on the final plans to rebuild Highland High School. At Tuesday’s regular board meeting, the Pocatello/Chubbuck School District Board of Trustees opted to table taking action for a May 21 bond election pending further details on the financial impact of House Bill 521, which proposes to create a new School Modernization Facilities Fund. The financial impact of that legislation remains unclear.
Board Chair, Deanna Judy, said, “Early reports indicate the promise of this bill could help reduce a bond request or potentially eliminate the need to bond altogether.”
While early in the stages of the legislative cycle, the Board recognizes that the new state facilities fund is dependent upon passing both the Idaho House and the Idaho Senate. Despite the impending legislative outcome, the Board took action on the formation of a Highland High School Rebuild and Design Committee whose purpose will be to review and discuss various options for the Highland High School rebuild project.
“With or without new state funding, Highland High School’s needs haven’t changed. We still have a critical need to rebuild essential areas of Highland High School,” Mrs. Judy emphasized.
Since the onset of the fire, meticulous planning has been underway to rebuild and restore the affected areas of the school. While a fifty-six percent majority of the community was in favor of the November bond proposal, the final vote tally did not meet the nearly insurmountable supermajority threshold.
“We are taking the necessary steps to explore various options and make thoughtful decisions that consider both financial prudence and the imperative to uphold educational standards,” Judy said.
One option includes rebuilding Highland’s facilities to 6A standards by combining insurance replacement monies with alternative sources of funding from the district, including allocations from the Capital Improvement Program and potential property sales.
Another option is to run another bond proposal on May 21, 2024 to rebuild Highland’s lost facilities and modernize instructional, activity, athletic, and performance spaces to align with 6A standards. This option also factors in the insurance replacement monies into the financial request for the bond proposal.
The timeline for decision-making is clear. The deadline to submit the resolution language for a new bond proposal is March 22. The anticipated completion date for any of the potential scenarios the Board has under consideration, including any depending on state funding, is Fall 2027.
Several guiding goals have focused the Board’s continued deliberations, including:
- Problem-solving with a focus on the continuity of learning while delivering a high quality educational experience.
- Transparency and accountability to the taxpayer community.
- Commitment to continuous improvement to safeguard the well-being of learners and staff.
- Regular communication to keep learners, parents, staff, and the wider community informed on progress, challenges, and decisions related to the rebuilding efforts.
- Recognizing that strong public school systems are a key driver of economic development. The long-term benefits associated with investing in new facilities include improved property values, community pride, and the ability to attract and retain learners, teachers, and staff.
- Gratitude and resilience recognizing the community support received and the importance of remaining united to overcome challenges.
“We appreciate the Board’s painstaking efforts and thoughtful approach to rebuilding Highland,” said Dr. Douglas Howell, Superintendent of Schools.
“We cannot overemphasize the resilience and strength of the Highland High School community in overcoming adversity and moving forward towards a brighter future. Rebuilding these essential areas is not only a significant endeavor for the district, but for the community.”
Why Bond Now?
A fire on April 21 destroyed several key facilities at Highland High School, including the main gym, cafeteria, music classrooms, weight room, and office areas. Authorities ruled the fire accidental and is a covered loss. The PCSD 25 Board of Trustees is asking voters to consider approving a $45 million bond to return Highland High School to a fully functioning high school facility. The bond will also expedite the district’s ongoing Capital Improvements Plan (CIP) 5-year schedule to upgrade the multipurpose (gym) facilities at Century High School to expand capacity and meet the educational and extracurricular needs of the student population.
*FINANCIAL/TAX IMPACT DISCLOSURE: The interest rate anticipated on the proposed bond issue is 3.71% per annum. The total amount estimated to be repaid over the life of the bonds, based on the anticipated interest rate, is $42,497,957, consisting of $45,000,000 in principal and $14,057,750 of interest, less $16,559,793 in estimated bond levy equalization payments. The term of the bonds will not exceed fifteen (15) years from the date of issuance. The estimated average annual cost to the taxpayer on the proposed bond is a tax of $37 per $100,000 of taxable assessed value, per year, based on current conditions. However, the District expects to receive from the State of Idaho school district facilities funds in an amount each year that will exceed the annual payments on the bonds and must first be used to repay the District’s bonds. Consequently, the actual estimated tax impact of the bond is $0 per $100,000 of taxable assessed value, per year, based on current conditions. As of November 7, 2023, the total existing bonded indebtedness of the District, including interest accrued, is $0.00.
Highland High School Concept Sketches
Century High School Concept Sketches
|PROPOSED BOND PROJECTS
HIGHLAND HIGH SCHOOL
Renovate and enhance Highland High School, including repairs to damaged facilities, constructing additional classrooms, and expanding and enhancing the gym, activity space, and auditorium.
CENTURY HIGH SCHOOL
Expand and construct additions and improvements to Century High School’s multipurpose (gym) facilities.
ESTIMATED INSURANCE REPLACEMENT SETTLEMENT
|TOTAL BOND REQUEST
|ADDITIONAL FUNDING SOURCES POTENTIALLY AVAILABLE
|Insurance replacement funds; Idaho’s School Bond Levy Equalization Program, School Plant Facilities levy funds; General Fund; Sale/transfer of district-owned acreage; public/private partnerships or donations.
What Will I See on the Ballot?
Registered voters living within the boundaries of the Pocatello/Chubbuck School District 25 are eligible to vote for or against the bond measure.
QUESTION: Shall the Board of Trustees of School District No. 25, Bannock County, State of Idaho (the “District”), be authorized to issue general obligation school bonds of said District in the principal amount of up to $45,000,000 for the purpose of financing the costs of (i) renovating and enhancing Highland High School, including (a) repairs to damaged facilities, (b) constructing additional classrooms, (c) expanding and enhancing the gym and activity space, (d) expanding and enhancing the auditorium, and (ii) expanding and constructing additions and improvements to the gym facility at Century High School, together with furnishings and equipment necessary to operate said facilities, and all costs and expenses related thereto, such bonds to become due in such installments as may be fixed by the Board, the final installment of such bonds to come due not later than fifteen (15) years from the date of issuance, all as provided in the Resolution adopted by the Board on September 12, 2023?
The interest rate anticipated on the proposed bond issue is 3.71% per annum. The total amount estimated to be repaid over the life of the bonds, based on the anticipated interest rate, is $42,497,957, consisting of $45,000,000 in principal and $14,057,750 of interest, less $16,559,793 in estimated bond levy equalization payments. The term of the bonds will not exceed fifteen (15) years from the date of issuance. The estimated average annual cost to the taxpayer on the proposed bond is a tax of $37 per $100,000 of taxable assessed value, per year, based on current conditions. However, the District expects to receive from the State of Idaho school district facilities funds in an amount each year that will exceed the annual payments on the bonds and must first be used to repay the District’s bonds. Consequently, the actual estimated tax impact of the bond is $0 per $100,000 of taxable assessed value, per year, based on current conditions. As of November 7, 2023, the total existing bonded indebtedness of the District, including interest accrued, is $0.00.
PCSD 25 Bond History
Bonds historically address long-range facilities planning. Voters last approved a PCSD 25 bond request on March 4, 1997 to build Century High School, which also provided the funding to build a new gym at Pocatello High School and upgrade the school’s HVAC system, bathrooms, and other improvements. The Board refinanced the bond in 2012, which resulted in more than $750,000 in savings to local taxpayers.
More than 80 percent of Idaho school districts rely on voter-approved plant facilities levies and bond funding to finance school construction.
What is a bond?
Bonds for school projects are very similar to a mortgage on a home. Issuing debt in bonds is a way that school districts can obtain the resources necessary for large and expensive capital improvements such as new school construction, renovations, and purchasing property for future schools. Just like other borrowers, school districts borrow money and make payments—usually annually. Bonds help supplement state and federal dollars with property taxes. General obligation bonds are authorized by voters through a bond election and require a supermajority to pass (66.67%).
What does a bond pay for?
- Bonds pay for major capital improvements, like building a new school or renovating/remodeling an old building. PCSD 25’s most recent bond was passed on March 4, 1997 to help fund the construction of Century High School and the new gym at Pocatello High School.
About PCSD 25
Founded in 1887, the Pocatello/Chubbuck School District 25 is Idaho's 5th largest school district, serving:
1,700 Staff Members
13 Elementary Schools
4 Middle Schools
3 High Schools
1 Technical Education & Career Campus
1 Alternate School
1 Early Learning Center
Walk-in early voting begins Monday, October 16 and ends Friday, November 3. The Bannock County Election Office is adjacent to the Bannock County Courthouse.
Pocatello-Chubbuck Observer: P.A.G.E.: SD25 $45M Bond Tax Impact