Provo school bond passes/doesn't pass 03

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

There’s no immediate answer for the Provo City School District in the days after its proposed $245 million bond appeared to have been rejected by voters. But what it knows is it still has a handful of projects it needs to carry out --the foremost being rebuilding a crumbling Timpview High School — with no current way to fund them.

“We know the issues are still there, they are continuing, they are accelerating, so we need to monitor that and see what options we have,” said Caleb Price, a spokesman for the Provo City School District.

If it had passed, the bond would have included a $145 million rebuild of Timpview High School, except for the Thunderdome, a $55 million relocation and rebuild 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.

About 63% of counted votes were cast against the bond in Tuesday’s election, totaling 9,490 of 15,029 votes, according to unofficial election results posted Wednesday afternoon. The areas that had a majority of counted votes in favor of the bond were mostly on the northeastern side of Provo, according to a map of results.

Leading up to Election Day, prospective voters cited various reasons for why they wouldn’t vote from the bond, ranging from not wanting to see a property tax increase, to opposition to moving Dixon Middle School, to the high cost of rebuilding Timpview High School.

“I don’t know if we can sit here and say one of those (caused it to fail),” Price said. “It was probably a combination of things.”

He said it’s still too soon after Election Day to point to one factor over another. Price said a notice sent out days before the election by Utah County that the county was proposing to increase the portion of property taxes the county collects by 100% didn’t help the school district’s proposed bond, either.

The bond appeared on the ballot years earlier than anticipated after rough winters caused the soil underneath part of Timpview High School to shift, cracks to appear in the school and a piece of masonry to fall through the media center’s ceiling tiles.

The school’s future condition is dependent on the weather, and Price anticipates it will eventually be deemed unsafe for students to be inside. He said it isn’t responsible for the district to wait until the school is condemned to try to rebuild it.

“At Timpview, the problems there aren’t made up and it wasn’t a scare tactic being used to pass the bond,” he said.

The Provo City School District Board of Education has not met to discuss the bond in the wake of the election results. Price said the plan is to regroup and look at options for funding the projects. Those could include the board voting to raise property taxes, diverting funds from other projects or placing another bond on a future ballot.

Price said the cost of rebuilding Timpview High School is expected to get more expensive as construction costs continue to rise. He said the district also does not have plans to sell land it bought near Footprinter Park that Dixon Middle School could be relocated to.

“The board felt like the choices they made to move Dixon, to rebuild Timpview for a full amount were made for a reason based on hours and hours of study and recommendations,” Price said. “I don’t see that changing.”