Millions of dollars are on the line for upgrades at schools in Yukon. District leaders are asking voters to approve a bond package on Tuesday.
This is the first time Yukon Public Schools have asked for a bond in almost a decade, but administrators did not make the decision lightly. They say right now, there is no other choice. Since 2007, Yukon's population has exploded. City schools have seen a nearly 2,000-student increase in enrollment. Now many classrooms are running out of room. YPS Superintendent Dr. Jason Simeroth says it is time to build a whole new elementary-intermediate school, and fix up the ones they already have.
“I like to equate it to buying tires for your car,” he says. “It’s not a lot of fun sometimes, but it’s absolutely what you have to do to keep moving forward.”
If approved, $43 million in bond funding will not only build the new school but also help upgrade technology and replace heating and air conditioning, furniture, roofs and playgrounds district-wide. An additional $1 million bond would purchase new buses and maintenance vehicles. A series of meetings with families earlier this year helped the district finalize its list of projects.
Dr. Simeroth says, “This has been a very, very collaborative effort to come up with the items that are on this list. It’s not like I sat down and wrote out a list. We really got the community input.”
While the bond funding would come out of citizens' property taxes, current rates would not increase. The projects would be finished over the course of four years, starting next fall.
“If we don’t supply the needs of our district through bond issues,” Dr. Simeroth explains, “then we have to do it through our general fund revenue that we get from the state, and that really hampers what we can do as a district.”
It is important to note that the bonds would not fund teacher raises. Yukon was one of the only districts in the state to increase teacher pay this year.
Yukon voters can look for the two ballot questions on Tuesday. To learn more about the initiative, click here.