Bonneville makes plans to improve bond communication

IDAHO FALLS — Bonneville Superintendent Scott Woolstenhulme discussed strategies with board trustees on Wednesday to attract more voters for an Aug. 29 bond measure election.

Woolstenhulme and trustees plan to improve communication and spread the word about the election at community events, school events and in elementary schools.

Voters turned down a $34.5 million bond proposal by just 200 votes in the May 16 election. The bond, which would fund a new elementary school and roof repairs and replacements, failed with 65.26% support when 66.67% was needed for a two-thirds supermajority.

The biggest change from May is that the cost per $100,000 in property taxes went down from $36 to $35 because of higher interest rates available to invest upon the bond’s initial payout.

This information will be communicated on a new district postcard that explains bond specifics and the costs for taxpayers. The postcard is currently in draft form and under district legal review. The Bonneville board intends to staff the following community events to pass out the informational letter and offer an opportunity for community members to discuss the bond at the following:

  • Saturday, July 22, Iona Days
  • Saturday, Aug. 5, Ammon Days
  • Thursday, Aug. 10, School registration
  • Thursday, Aug. 24, Back to School nights
  • Various dates, athletic events.

The postcard is intended as a handout, not a mailer. Trustees discussed mailing the missive to all registered, non-family voting residents, but superintendent Woolstenhulme reported that, prior to the May vote, only 7 out of 8,000 people signed up for the Bonneville School District newsletter after spending $8,000 to send out the postcard.

Woolstenhulme clarified the legality of the district presence at events, clarifying the board can only inform and not advocate for the bond. The district must also provide equal access to allow opposition the means to communicate at these events as well.

These efforts will be supplemented by other strategies.

Board chair Chad Dance reported conversations with Bonneville leadership for advocates for education who are fostering a grassroots movement going with printed signs, fliers and banners. Trustee Randy Smith suggested adding the number of elementary school students being taught in temporary trailers because of overcrowding. And trustee Paul Jenkins proposed paying for informative billboards, reminding residents of the upcoming bond vote.

While these recommendations were met with encouragement, no plans for further action were undertaken at the board meeting.

Matt Denis

Matt Denis

Reporter Matt Denis is based in the Treasure Valley and has served as an educator and a journalist. Prior to national digital reporting and founding an arts and culture section in Eugene, Oregon, Matt worked as an English and history teacher in Detroit, San Diego, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. You can send news tips to [email protected].

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