JEROME, Idaho — The Jerome School district is seeking a $27 million bond to build a new elementary school and expand two of their others.
After a failed attempt to pass a bond last year and get some relief, the Jerome School District's overcrowded schools are still very much a reality. The district is made up of more than 4,000 students, 65% of which come from low-income households.
From kindergarten until 3rd grade, students attend Horizon and Jefferson Elementary Schools. Once in 4th grade, they head to Summit Elementary. In 6th grade, they start at Jerome Middle School.
“Jerome is on the upswing,” said Chris Bragg with Jerome Citizens for Better Schools. “There is a lot of good things happening in Jerome.”
Jerome's rapidly growing population base has seen a 34% increase over a ten-year period. The growth of the city has contributed to the majority of their schools operating overcrowded for several years.
“We have utilized every single space possible in the building and we are still squished,” said Angela Brulotte, Jefferson Elementary School principal.
To solve this issue, the Jerome school district attempted to pass a $26 million bond to build a new elementary school and expand Jefferson and Horizon, then transition all elementary schools to operate with K-6. This transition will then free up space in the middle school which is also overcrowded. This Bond was rejected by voters last year.
“That was right at the beginning of the pandemic,” said Bragg. “There was a lot of uncertainty in the community, there was a lot of change in how community members were asked to vote on the bond itself.”
The district is seeking the bond again this year, but due to increasing construction costs, it now has a higher price tag of $27 million.
“This bond will actually not increase the tax levy rate in Jerome at all,” Bragg said.
Jerome residents will have no increase in the amount of taxes they pay to the schools if the bond were to pass. This is made possible by restructuring current bonds, current low-interest rates, and bond equalization money provided by the state.
“We have great teachers, we have wonderful people that work in the district, we just need to give them the facilities to make them successful,” Bragg said.
The next election is on May 18.