Guest column: D91 committed to sharing info on bond

Keeping our District 91 patrons informed on the upcoming bond issue is critical because they will decide whether this is a worthy investment in our schools, writes Deidre Warden.

In a recent column, Andi Elliott made an issue of some fliers Idaho Falls School District 91 distributed, but a lot of her information was incorrect and warrants a correction.

It is true D91 has spent money on fliers to inform parents and patrons about the upcoming bond election. About $490 was spent in May on 10,000 fliers that were sent home with elementary school students, distributed at high school graduations and are being handed out at summer community events.

However, the fliers were not full color.

They were not printed on glossy paper.

They were black-and-white, postcard-sized fliers printed on white office paper.

The fliers provided basic information about the bond and answered frequently asked questions about the proposal. They were distributed along with the graduation programs so no additional staff was needed.

One of the things the district heard after the last bond election was that D91 needed to provide more details about the plan. So, we’re doing just that. We are sharing as much information as we can about the bond proposal D91 patrons will consider on Aug. 28.

Contrary to Andi Elliott’s assertions, the flier was printed after the Board of Trustees voted on the scope and amount of the bond in May. That vote was followed in June by another vote on specific ballot language.

The Board of Trustees strives to be honest and transparent in all its work. It has been working collaboratively with teachers, parents and community members for more than three years to develop these plans. Proposals have been shared on the district website, as well as financial information and cost estimates. Together they have worked to identify the buildings’ shortcomings, find solutions and come up with real cost estimates, not just wild speculation.

Throughout the process, the district has gathered input, incorporated feedback and provided updates to parents and patrons. They have analyzed different options. They’ve brainstormed different ideas. They’ve run the numbers looking for the best options.

The Board of Trustees takes very seriously its role as a steward of taxpayer money. Board members are constantly looking at the best way to balance both the district’s long-term and short-term needs. They recognize the importance of investing in teachers and classrooms. D91’s teachers recently received a 6.92 percent average increase, with a minimum increase of 3.24 percent for full-time teachers, in addition to a $500 one-time payment in November. In recognition of the board’s careful financial management, the district’s bond rating was recently increased from Aa3 to Aa2. We’re proud D91 is the only district in the area with a bond rating that high.

Keeping our patrons informed is critical because ultimately they will decide on whether this is a worthy investment in our schools. In the meantime, we will continue to provide information as outlined in Idaho Code, Chapter 6 Title 74, which deals with Transparent and Ethical Government. It is a valid Idaho Code despite Elliott’s assertions.

An overview of the project, informational videos and renderings are posted on the district website at Board members will be at upcoming community events to answer questions and discuss the plans. Public meetings are planned in August. And, the district will be distributing more fliers, including some full-color info graphics.

Deidre Warden is chair of the Idaho Falls Board of Trustees. She is a proud graduate of Idaho Falls High School as is her mother and her four children.