Three Forks Voice - Connect With Your Community!

By Jack H. Smith
Three Forks Voice 

Elliott discusses closure, upcoming May 5 bonds

 

April 22, 2020

Ballots have been mailed out for the May 5 election.

In the days before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Three Forks Schools Superintendent Jeff Elliott felt the district had some really great momentum in regard to the two bonds in the upcoming May 5 election.

While still optimistic, Elliott readily admits that when schools were closed March 16 the primary focus had to be on the well-being of both students and staff.

"It's not that we have put the bond on the backburner, but the focus has to be the emergency we face. This is a tough time for a lot of people, and we have to realize that and be emphatic towards it, and we are," he said.

After hearing the Governor had made the decision to close the schools, Elliott said the response from his staff started immediately.

"I always knew our staff was amazing. To see how they could step up so quickly, that is one thing I admire about them. They were ready to do distance learning and made such an effort to try and do different things. They are doing things outside the box and Mr. Fanning (Steve), and Mr. Heys (Greg) are challenging them to do even more outside the box. I'm extremely proud of what they've done," he said. "Our kitchen crew and our paraprofessionals have also gone above and beyond what we could have expected. I knew they were good people; I just didn't realize how quickly they would adapt to the emergency situation we faced."

According to Elliott, when the district has had some time, they have done some things online to promote the bond and regardless of the outcome they are going to continue to do a great job teaching and educating kids in the Three Forks schools.

He does, however, admit the needs for next year and the immediate future have not changed and if it does not pass, they are going to have to look at doing something else.

"We have portables ordered but to me, those are not a permanent educational facility. We need a better, more positive place for kids to be able to learn," he said. "We'll see what happens, but we are excited. I'm still optimistic and I'm still hearing good things."

While the district has been faced with challenges that led to the decision to move forward with the two bonds, Elliott praised his staff.

"It's tough for them, especially in the high school, but the staff does not complain and continue to get their job done. We have got to take care of them.

"My complete goal is to give them the three things they need. The space to teach, the safety of an educational facility and the infrastructure that will provide a quality place to work," he said.

Looking towards to rest of the school year, Elliott added the district is hoping for the best and planning for the worst.

"We want to be back, and our teachers want to be back. But we also understand this is something we have to do in order to save lives," he said.

He added they have started talking with students about planning something different for the 2020 graduation ceremony.

BOND

The total bond for the Elementary District (K-8) is $10 million and the bond for the High School District is $15 million.

Looking closer at the elementary bond, $6.3 million would be used for life safety, mechanical, plumbing and electrical upgrades in 40,000 square feet of the building. The bond also includes a 15,000 square foot addition for a cost of 2.4 million. The new space would include new classrooms, flex space, music and art rooms, and a new secure middle school entrance. The bond also includes 5,000 square feet of renovations for a cost of $800,000. Renovations include special education and support spaces, a new secure elementary school entrance, administrative office, and music practice rooms.

Both the elementary and high school bonds include a $500,000 site, safety, land acquisition, and utility upgrades.

The high school bond includes $9.3 million in life safety, mechanical, plumbing and electrical upgrades in $55,5000 square feet of the structure. A proposed 21,000 square foot new addition would include new classrooms, new secure entrance and common space, and cafeteria expansion. The bond also features 10,000 square feet in renovations for a cost of $1.7 million. The renovations include art classrooms, kitchen improvements, special education, and support spaces, and district and school administrative offices.

The estimated tax increase for a $200,000 home is $32.31 a month, and $387.73 per year. There is no current bond on taxpayer books.

In an effort to inform the public about the bonds where ballots will be mailed out April 17, Elliott has been spearheading a marketing campaign that includes a dedicated web page for the bonds, YouTube videos as well as tours of the building. More information can be found at https://www.tfschools.com/.../page/bond-proposal-options-19-20

 

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