Voters passed school bonds totaling $20.5 million for the Stevensville High School and Elementary School Districts on Tuesday.
Superintendent Bob Moore praised the community for their substantial turnout and positive endorsement.
In unofficial results, the high school bond passed by a vote of 2,102 to 1,763 and the elementary bond passed with a vote of 1,596 to 1,243. The results will be finalized on May 14.
The $6,369,000 Stevensville Elementary School District bond and the $14,169,000 Stevensville High School District bond address enrollment growth, special education space, agricultural and industrial trades and technology, renovations to buildings and grounds, safety, building access and parking.
“A lot of people were interested and showed their support — parents, students, businesses and school staff,” Moore said. “Renee Endicott worked really hard mobilizing parents, community owners and businesses to show their support. When the community gets behind it, it makes it easier to get the information out.”
Moore said it has been a long wait since portions of the high school building were built in 1958 and haven’t been improved.
“Restroom facilities are not ADA accessible and science labs have 1958 equipment,” he said. “The technology alone has changed, we weren’t using computers in classrooms, we weren’t even using them in schools, so bringing in fiber optics, Cat 5 and Cat 6 cabling and figuring out where to run those lines, retrofit after retrofit, is challenging.”
Protection, safety and best practices are three key reasons the school asked for the bond.
“It is protecting an investment that this community has of their funds,” Moore said. “It is safety and sound educational practice. We are training students to be lifelong learners because there are jobs out there that don’t even exist at this time that students will be walking into five, six, ten years down the road.”
The funds will be used to modernize buildings and provide flexible learning spaces and new opportunities.
“In 1958 they built a really solid state-of-the-art building,” Moore said. “The architects told us that the bones of the building are structurally sound for the high school, there are some things k-3 that we need to take care of. It means the community did it right the first time.”
Moore said he is happy for the students and future students. He said that at the celebration for the bonds passing parents with young children said, “This is who will benefit.”
“One child was 9-months old,” Moore said. “It’s a great thing for the students, it’s a great thing for the community. Schools are a large economic driver in all communities. Having a strong, viable school brings people in.”
He said the Industrial Technology center will give a huge boost to students who aren’t interested in attending college.
“Providing students with skill-sets where they can walk out of high school and into jobs is important,” Moore said. “Instruction trades, manufacturing trades and providing a pool of workers for manufacturers to come in is important. Post high school training that has to go in for those certifications but it is just a different path towards a profession.”
Educating today’s students benefits the future.
“I always tell people I want our students well-trained,” Moore said. “I want them to be the kindest people we can produce with absolutely the best skills because the students coming through the school right now are the ones who will be taking care of me in my old age.”
Moving the playground will be a great safety improvement for the primary school.
“We still have to go to the city for final approval of the abandonment of the surface and moving Phillips Street 200—250 feet south on Park,” Moore said. “Moving the playground next to the school is absolutely a no-brainer.”
He said having kindergarteners crossing the street six times a day with wishbone parking is a bad situation.
The bond will improve safety with parking for the elementary school, high school and events, and new drop off locations will help traffic flow for Stevensville schools.
“It will relieve congestion and be a large benefit,” Moore said. “If you think over 1,000 students coming to school in cars, on busses or bicycles and foot traffic, then add over 100 staff members doing the same all into one traffic loop it creates interesting pedestrian versus vehicle interactions in the mornings.”
Last May, Stevensville and Lone Rock voters rejected two bonds totaling $22.6 million for Stevensville high school and elementary districts. The Stevensville School Board surveyed the community on what they would be willing to support, rewrote the bonds, met with the community and found success.
“A lot of times it takes several times for a community to pass a bond,” Moore said. “The survey was huge. Once we took the information that came from the community and put it in a ballot form we heard very little negative and gathered a great deal of support.”
Moore said he appreciates that parents, businesses and other taxpayers in the community see the value of the Stevensville School District and the educational services they provide.
“The community is taking on just over $20 million worth of debt over the next 20 years, for the community to take it on and have faith in the school that we are doing our best is greatly appreciated,” Moore said. “It’s going to make Stevensville an even better place to live.”
Mayor Brandon Dewey called the passage of the Stevensville School bonds a “great step forward for our community.”
“These bonds invest in our children and let them know that we as a community believe in them and know that our town’s future and our school district's future align and are one,” Dewey said. “As alumni of Stevensville Schools and as parents, Tasha and I are thrilled to see our community embrace its school and lead us into new opportunities for our education system here in Stevensville.”