Mountain Home to float a plant facilities levy

Children have been dodging raindrops in Hacker Middle School’s hallways for years. The roof of the Mountain Home school is woefully in need of repair, superintendent James Gilbert says.

Student safety concerns have prompted Gilbert to invest in hired help to assist in getting his community to support a $5 million, five-year plant facility levy.

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The roof at Hacker Middle School in the Mountain Home School District

Gilbert hired an outside agency to prioritize and price the multiple safety repairs needed in several schools. He also hired a marketing firm to help with messaging and produce a slick website featuring photos and video of the needed repairs, ballot language, polling information and more.

“We wanted a different take than just the district’s,” said Gilbert, who hosted community tours of Hacker Middle School Tuesday. “We needed help identifying the biggest issues.”

Consultants from Boise State University prioritized Mountain Home’s repair needs based on student safety. Five of the district’s eight schools are in significant need of upgrades or repair, according to the report, with Hacker’s collapsing roof named the No. 1 safety priority.

“It can’t go another winter,” Gilbert said of the school that holds 650 students. “If this levy passes, we’ll start construction the next day.”

The plant facility levy, which requires a 55 percent majority, will be placed before voters on Aug. 25. The cost of the roof repair is approximately $1.5 million. The rest of the money would cover other projects:

  • Roof repairs over the gym/kitchen area at East Elementary School.
  • Electrical upgrades at East.
  • Re-asphalting playground areas at East.
  • Electrical upgrades at North Elementary School.
  • Re-asphalting the back driveway and playground area at North.
  • Electrical upgrades at West Elementary School.
  • Repairing and painting interior at Mountain Home High School.

A district bond expires this month. The levy would essentially replace the bond, and taxes will not go up, Gilbert said.

“I’ll do everything I can to get this passed,” Mountain Home Mayor Tom Rist said. “I won’t continue to risk the safety of our kids.”

Building repairs are the top priority for now, but Gilbert said he will likely ask patrons to pass a bond in the next five to 10 years for a new high school.

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Hacker Middle School
Jennifer Swindell

Jennifer Swindell

Managing editor and CEO Jennifer Swindell founded Idaho Education News in 2013. She has led the online news platform as it has grown in readership and engagement every year, reaching over two million pageviews a year. Jennifer has more than 35 years of experience in Idaho journalism. She also has served as a public information officer for Idaho schools and as a communication director at Boise State University. She can be reached at [email protected].

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