BLACKFOOT – The Blackfoot school bond committee continues to present its vision for the future of the district as the voting in March fast approaches. Recently, they have taken to making videos on their website to provide clips of information supporting the plans for the Technical Education Center that has been dubbed BTEC.
BTEC stands for the Blackfoot Technical Education Center and would create a unique opportunity to the students in the area to participate in classes in high school that would otherwise be training that is needed in their respective career fields.
Adding to the bonding process, the district wants to build a new elementary school on property that it owns near the current soccer complex to aid in rectifying the growth in the area by having a school large enough to accept the influx of growth in that area of the city. Currently, I.T. Stoddard Elementary is bursting at the seams, being forced to utilize modular classrooms that are positioned between the elementary school and the Blackfoot Performing Arts Center (BPAC). The process would involve moving the students from I.T. Stoddard to the new elementary and then retrofitting the elementary with shops and add-ons to allow it to be repurposed into the BTEC.
The plan by the bonding committee is to not increase the burden on the taxpayers as they would be trying to bring this bond in at the retirement of the BPAC bond. That statement was one of the most resounding points that carried throughout the introductory meetings. The other members felt it would be in the best interests of the community to not request a bond for an amount that would result in an increase in taxes even though some members originally wanted to explore the option of building a new high school. After those numbers were revealed, it was clear that the best option would be to build a new elementary and repurpose I.T. Stoddard.
Now, months later after this brainchild was revealed, Blackfoot Superintendent Brian Kress explained some of the reasoning behind the decisions that the bonding committee reached. First was the financial reasoning already outlined previously. Second was the need for creating a system to help students that decide college is not the path they want to take and would rather work with an established trade. Finally, he touched on the hopes of benefiting other areas during the bonding process — especially the building of an atrium in front of the old gym. The atrium would be a gathering space for students where they would be able to eat their lunch, enjoy one another’s company, and provide a space that could be utilized for other gatherings or events.
They also have plans to help with the sports programs as well through the bonding process with lighting for baseball fields, adding soccer fields and other areas. The final goal was simple: do everything possible to benefit the greatest number of students through creating programs that will propel them into the future.
The bond will be on the ballot for the first time on March 9 and needs a supermajority to pass. A supermajority is 66.6% of the vote in favor. For the breakdown of the numbers, visit the Blackfootbond.org website and look for the video of the initial public launch from November 12 or visit the tax information tab.