Iron County School Board discusses obligations, budgets and critical race theory – St George News

File photo of a sign outside the Iron County School District offices, Cedar City, Utah September 20, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

CITY OF CEDAR – The Iron County School District is seeking public approval to issue more than $ 60 million in general bonds to pay for various school building improvement projects.

Flyer showing potential bond projects for the Iron County School District, June 2021 (Click to enlarge) | Image courtesy of Iron County School District, St. George News / Cedar City News

The district’s proposed list, which was discussed at Tuesday’s regular school board meeting, includes six construction projects to replace an elementary school and make major upgrades to four high schools, in addition to building a new one. transportation facility for the district bus fleet and other vehicles.

The highest-priced project is the replacement of the 70-year-old East Elementary School building in Cedar City at an estimated cost of $ 27.6 million. Officials said the new school is expected to be similar in size and configuration to the new North Elementary, which was completed in 2017.

Schools that need major upgrades and renovations are Cedar Middle School, Canyon View Middle School, Cedar High School, and Parowan High School. To view a copy of the information leaflet outlining the proposed projects, which have a total price tag of approximately $ 61.9 million, click here.

Board members are responsible for leading efforts to educate voters in their respective districts about bond issuance. If the proposal is approved by the school board and meets all necessary statutory requirements, the issue will appear before voters on the November general election ballot.

“None of this is set in stone,” District Business Administrator Todd Hess reminded board members and others in attendance on Tuesday evening.

Based on comments received from the voting public by the August 19 deadline, board members may decide to remove or modify any of the projects from the list, or possibly add new ones. Suggested project start dates and other details are also subject to change, district officials noted.

The Iron County School District held a similar election three years ago, which asked voters for $ 92 million. This proposal included not only the construction of a new eastern primary school, but also the replacement of the southern primary school. This 2018 measure failed by a margin of 59% to 41%.

Iron County School District Offices, Cedar City, Utah, December 4, 2020 | File photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

Hess shared some hypothetical numbers at Tuesday’s meeting, as provided by Zions Bank. He said if the district issued $ 60 million in bonds in 2022, the expected impact on a $ 300,000 home would be as follows: the school district’s share of the house’s annual property taxes would drop from 128.72. $ to $ 226.56, an increase of $ 97.84. .

However, he noted, the total of $ 226.56 after the proposed increase would still be lower than the $ 241.28 the same hypothetical owner would have paid before this year.

The reason, Hess said, is that the district has paid off two bonds in the current fiscal year.

“This year, people will see a decrease in their property taxes related to the school district’s debt payment because two of those bonds have been paid off,” Hess said after the meeting. “And then if we issue more bonds, whether it’s next year or the next year, it will go up and up, but still not to the levels they were paying for, at least based on those preliminary estimates. “

Critical breed theory

In another action on Tuesday, the school board also heard from board member Dave Staheli regarding his own proposed resolution opposing teaching critical race theory in schools.

The non-binding measure, supported by Staheli and Jeff Corry, ultimately failed by 3-2. Two of the non-voters nonetheless expressed personal opposition to the Critical Race Theory itself, even though they disagreed with the wording of Staheli’s resolution as presented.

The resolution proposed by Staheli, a copy of which can be viewed here, called for the Utah Legislature and Governor Spencer Cox “to pass and sign legislation by the 2021-2022 school year prohibiting the Critical Racial Theory curriculum and the training and / or professional development of employees on it concept and similar concepts in the Utah public education system ”.

Board member Dale Brinkerhoff, who cast one of the no votes, clarified his position by saying, “I don’t like CRT, the critical breed theory. I don’t like what he does, he promotes censorship, micromanagement, segregation, separation, lack of faith and trust in our faculty and limits diversity and inclusion.

Despite this, Brinkerhoff said he preferred to see a faculty-led committee overseeing the program at the district level.

Ben Johnson also voted against, “I’ll be blunt: I am not in favor of teaching critical race theory in our schools. I am not in favor of it being taught in Utah schools, I am very supportive of the direction the state school board is starting to take. However, I am having trouble with this particular resolution and the way it is worded.

Cedar High School, Cedar City, Utah, December 4, 2020 | File photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

Johnson encouraged his fellow council members to familiarize themselves with the relevant sections of R-277, the section of Utah’s administrative code that governs education.

“I think it would be good for us as a school board to recognize what we support in there and what we agree with and get feedback (in) that direction to the school board of the State, ”he said.

However, Staheli later said that Iron County schools should proactively take the lead on the matter, rather than waiting to follow instructions from the Utah State Board of Education. .

“I contend that the Iron County School Board and other Utah State school boards must oppose critical race theory in our county-level public schools and represent the values ​​of our constituency on the strongest terms for the state. Legislature, governor and state school board, ”Staheli said.

Staehli said he plans to make some adjustments to his motion for a resolution before putting it back on the table for reconsideration later.

Other action Tuesday evening included:

  • In a 3-2 vote, the board approved a joint liability agreement with Cedar City over permission to light personal fireworks at three school parking lots during the upcoming holiday legal dates of July 4 ( July 2-5). The three locations that have been designated are Canyon View High, Cedar High, and Iron Springs Elementary. Note: Cedar City Council approved their version of the deal the following evening with a 4-0 vote.
  • Following a brief public hearing, Council approved both the amended budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year as well as the proposed budget for the upcoming 2021-22 fiscal year. The two budgets total approximately $ 18.5 million in revenues and expenses.
  • The council also heard from over a dozen members of the public during the designated comment period. Commentators spoke on a variety of topics, including the Redmen mascot, Critical Race Theory, Suite 360, fireworks liability, and GRAMA’s requests for special education records.

In addition, Monica Torres, longtime administrative assistant to outgoing Superintendent Shannon Dulaney, paid tribute to her boss, calling her an “incredible and inspired leader” who personified the term “grace under fire”.

“She has many awards and accolades … but more importantly, her example of kindness and gratitude is second to none,” Torres said of Dulaney, who is retiring.

Torres concluded by mentioning the transition underway as Dulaney’s successor Lance Hatch takes office effective July 1.

“She will be missed by the family in our district office. And on that note, I would like to welcome Dr Hatch to the family in our district office, and we look forward to working with you. Torres said.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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