Tuesday , November 07, 2017 - 10:00 PM11 comments
OGDEN — Voters narrowly turned back the Ogden School District’s controversial $106.5 million bond proposal, the victim of backlash from residents leery of plans to rebuild and enlarge three elementary schools.
According to unofficial totals Tuesday in the voting, the bond measure lost, 4,027 voting against it and 3,831 voting for it, a 51-49 split.
Another initiative, Weber School District’s $97 million bond proposal, received strong support, passing 14,165 to 10,120 votes, a 58-42 margin. The Weber plan calls for two new elementary schools and upgrades to two high schools and a junior high school.
The Ogden proposal called for the reconstruction and expansion of Polk, T.O. Smith and Horace Mann schools, a new gym at Ben Lomond High School and two new collaborative classrooms at two junior high schools. Plans for the three new schools, particularly Polk, generated a strong backlash from many, however, uneasy with the notion of building bigger schools that they worried would be unfriendly to children.
“We recognize the need to upgrade the aging infrastructure in town,” said Dustin Chapman, a member of Ogden Education, a group that took shape to push for the proposal’s defeat. But the school plan, he said, “wasn’t the right bond for this case and instance.”
District spokesman Jer Bates said in an email that school officials would reserve comment until Thursday, when Weber County election officials are to post updated results from Tuesday’s unofficial tallies.
Some in Ogden Education said they weren’t necessarily opposed to the idea of a bond, they just didn’t think the district plan was well thought out or that school officials generated sufficient public input. Many Polk parents decried the proposal to tear down the historic old school, built in 1926, and build it anew, though school officials said in the waning days of the campaign that they’d be open to renovating the facility instead to ease their worries.
Going forward, Chapman said group members want to work with school officials and other stakeholders throughout the district in coming up with another bond proposal, potentially in time for 2018 elections. “We just want to be part of the process,” he said.
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