Editor's note: An earlier version of this article misstated the amount of the levy rate.
SALMON — Voters here on March 12 will decide whether to approve or reject a $25.6 million bond to build a new school for pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade students to address what officials say are aging and overcrowded existing facilities.
The school board on Monday evening unanimously approved the proposal, which is the first of its kind since 2013, when the last of nine previous bond elections tied to a K-8 school complex for Salmon School District No. 291 was unsuccessful.
Board member Dorrie Prange said the time was right to appeal to school district voters to meet the needs of children.
“It’s important to move forward with supporting public education in Salmon. I hope we are all ready to look to the future and provide for our kids,” she said.
The multimillion-dollar bond would fund a facility for elementary and middle school students as well as a special education program for children ages 3 to 5 who now receive those services at an off-campus building. It could house as many as 650 students.
At present, fifth-grade students receive instruction in portable classrooms outside Pioneer Elementary School and students in sixth through eighth grades are educated for the most part in portables outside Salmon Junior-Senior High School.
The arrangement came after the middle school was closed in 2014 to save repair and operating costs stemming from a requirement to replace the school’s roof to meet seismic and snow-loading standards.
The high school and the elementary school absorbed students in fifth through eighth grades. Total enrollment in the district hovers near 900.
School board members on Monday evening pointed to above-capacity operations at the existing, decades-old buildings and an analysis by a consulting firm suggesting pouring more money into the elementary school to address its state of disrepair would be equivalent to wasting taxpayer dollars.
The firm, Facility Planners, on Monday released the results of a telephone survey of 300 school district voters showing the majority supported a new structure for elementary and middle school students, with 71 percent answering in the affirmative compared to 22 percent in the negative and 7 percent unsure. In a follow-up question closely tracking the planned $25.6 million, 20-year bond, 67 percent of voters surveyed said they would approve of the building plan and 31 percent disapproved. Two percent said they didn’t know.
The cost to property owners tied to the school building project would be $265 per $100,000 assessed value, according to the bond resolution.
The bond amount is not to exceed $25.6 million and funds also would be used to underwrite a gymnasium and for the purchase of furnishings and equipment.
Two-thirds of district voters who go to the polls must approve the bond proposal in order for it to pass.