Provo school bond passes/doesn't pass 01

Cars pass by a sign against a Provo school bond during Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019, in Provo. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

Although it failed on this month’s ballot, Provo City School District Board of Education Board President Jim Pettersson believes the decision to approach the public about a bond to rebuild aging schools was the correct one.

“I firmly believe and will continue to believe that the bond we proposed for $245 million was absolutely the right thing to do at the right time,” Pettersson said during a school board meeting Tuesday evening. “This bond allowed us as a board and district administration to present to the public the full scope of the needs of the district. It also allowed the board and the district administration to represent the most fiscally responsible solution to meeting the immediate and long-term needs for student safety, security and academic equity.”

The Provo City School District Board of Education approved a resolution Tuesday evening accepting the results of the general election canvas, which showed that 63.06% of the 15,183 votes in the November general election were cast against the bond.

If it had passed, the bond would have included $145 million for a rebuild of Timpview High School, except for the Thunderdome, a $55 million rebuild and relocation of Dixon Middle School on Provo’s west side, a $30 million rebuild of Wasatch Elementary School, a $10 million addition at Westridge Elementary School and $5 million for security upgrades.

Tuesday was the first time the board had met since the polls closed Nov. 5.

Pettersson addressed the crowd gathered for the meeting twice regarding the bond, stating that the election process was emotionally taxing for everyone involved.

“There was great passion on both sides of this issue,” Pettersson said in his first remarks about the bond, located near the beginning of the board’s business meeting.

He urged the community to come together to think about what’s right for all of Provo, and led the meeting with a prayer for healing and unity.

In his second set of remarks later in the meeting, Pettersson thanked both those who supported and opposed the bond, including those who studied the issue and asked sincere questions.

“Those questions helped the board and district administration to consider items we have not always fully explored,” Pettersson said.

He said he was saddened that the election became about winning an argument, getting personal wants met or attacking the honesty and integrity of the school board and district administrators.

The needs the bond would have paid to complete, Pettersson said, still need to be met, and the board will look for ways to fund them.

Those options could include deferring other projects, raising the local property tax levy or approaching the public with another bond on a future ballot.

Melanie Hall, the board’s vice president, also took time during the meeting to thank the bond’s supporters.

“It was a true privilege to work with this board and the administration during this time, and I look forward to working with all of you during the next steps,” Hall said.

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