It’s too early to tell what impact COVID-19 might have on a potential 2020 bond from the Alpine School District.
“I think it is difficult to gauge right now,” Kyrene Gibb, Vice President of Research at Y2 Analytics, said to the Alpine School District Board of Education during its study session on March 31. “I think there is a lot of speculation and fear and not a lot of facts, and it will be difficult to know what the economic impact of this will be until the dust has settled.”
The district is considering placing a bond on the 2020 November ballot for voter approval. It has not yet announced the amount of the bond, or what would be funded. Bonds cannot be used for teacher pay.
The district’s 2016, $387 million bond funded the construction of multiple new schools — including Belmont and Liberty Hills elementary schools — the rebuild of schools, including Lehi High School, renovations and the purchase of land for future schools.
ASD has used Y2 Analytics to host focus groups and launch surveys regarding a potential 2020 bond. Preliminary information on the survey was presented to the board of education on March 31, with more expected during the board’s April 21 meeting. Overall, Gibb said voters responded that they had high confidence in the district. Respondents identified class size, teacher retention and teacher pay as their top concerns.
Gibb said the majority of voters who responded to the survey stated that the district responsibly and transparently used the 2016 bond funds. Half of the voters answered that they either didn’t remember or were unsure of how the funds were spent.
The survey randomly assigned respondents to different potential 2020 bond scenarios and asked how likely they were to support them. About one-third of voters answered that they would likely vote against any bond without additional context.
The survey showed that 62% of respondents would likely support a $475 million bond that would lead to no property tax increases due to other bonds being paid off, that 60% of respondents would support a $500 million bond that would lead to about a $20 a year tax increase on the average home inside the district and that 46% of respondents would likely support a $550 million bond that would lead to a property tax increase of about $120 a year for the average home.
“Voters want specifics,” Gibb said. “They want to know which communities will benefit from bond funds.”
About 800 people completed the survey. Results have not yet been broken down by geographic area.
Of those who answered, 41% said they would want bond money to go toward funding new buildings, 36% wanted it to go toward enhancing existing buildings, 35% supported bond funds paying for security measures, 33% supported bond funds used to rebuild existing schools and 25% supported using the money to purchase property for future school construction.
The survey asked selected voters to rank how they want the district to handle growth and school size. Online learning was the most supported option. About 19% of those who answered said that a bond was the option that was the least appealing to them.
Voters were also asked about how they received information about the 2016 bond. Most answered that they found out from friends, family, and neighbors.
Scott Carlson, the ASD board president, said that data will shape a potential upcoming information campaign about a 2020 bond.
“Certainly, we want to share information in the most cost-effective method,” Carlson said. “Mailers, those might be a thing of the past as the most effective way.”