The Mayors of six Wasatch County towns released a statement regarding the Wasatch School District $150 million bond.
The Mayors of Charleston, Wallsburg, Daniel, Interlaken, Midway and Heber City have all signed a statement regarding the $150 Million School Bond Wasatch County residents will vote on this election season. The five-paragraph statement was released on Wednesday.
Heber City Mayor Kellen Potter said that after asking questions to the board at an interlocal meeting and a public hearing she heard that she was being described as against addressing the issue.
“I just felt like the narrative has been if someone asks a question or they don't necessarily support this plan; that they're anti education, or they don't support the schools,” Potter continued. “We wanted people to be able to ask questions and feel like they can express their opinions without being labeled negative. Or that it meant you know if you say no that means that you don't care about the crowding, or you don't believe that we need good schools. We just wanted to bring it out there and say look this is a really important decision. Whether you say yes or no doesn't mean that you don't care about education. It might mean that you think a better plan is available or possible, or a less expensive plan is better. We just wanted to kind of put it out there. That it's OK for people to have a conversation and deliberate and bring out all the issues on the table.”
Midway Mayor Celeste Johnson says she’s also hoping to open dialogue about alternatives for the bond.
“For me it was that I wanted to make sure people understood that voting no didn't mean you were anti school board, or anti children's education, or anti solutions to some very big problems,” Johnson explained. “It simply meant you were looking for other options. I feel like it's been a little bit of a tricky discussion to have. Because if you speak or ask questions that are basically saying this is too much money what else could we do? There was a sense that you were kind of shut down or shut out. We were just really trying to maybe open a dialogue for options if you weren't comfortable with 150 million.”
Mayor Johnson hopes people will educate themselves on how dramatic the need is there for new schools, the options that could be explored, and if the bond is best use of funds.
Mayor Potter says that passing the bond would cost residents a lot of money.
“We are having a huge amount of growth, so I get that they have a really challenging situation to figure out,” Potter said. “Where do we house all of these students? How do we have decent class sizes, and how do we educate them? On the other hand, there are a lot of places in our country that have dealt with these issues. Some schools have chosen to do year-round schools in the elementary or they've chosen to have a larger high school. The school's philosophy has been we don't like the larger schools we want to have more smaller schools and that's OK to have that philosophy. But people in the community now have to decide if they agree with that philosophy and they think that's the best way to educate our kids knowing the price tag. We can always say what we like and what we don't like but once you know the price tag, then you can say it in a more educated way. Whether you say we never want a school that's over a 4A, but what's it going to cost us? Now we have some numbers, people need to look at that and say is the best decision for our Valley? Is this the kind of debt that we want to take? I don't know what that answer is. A lot of people say yes, and others say no, and that's what’ll happen in the election. We’ll find out what the majority think.”
A town hall discussion about the school bond will take place Thursday evening at 6:30 in the Midway Community Center. The hour-long discussion will also be broadcast on Midway City’s Facebook Page.
You can find the six-mayor’s joint statement above,
And a link to the school districts answers to frequently asked questions here.