PAYETTE - “If we don’t do something with a bond… we need to do something with the roof.”

That’s the concern Trustee Candita Strong brought up before the Payette School District Board of Trustees at their March 9 regular meeting as they resumed their conversation on the topic of approaching a potential bond levy to improve Payette schools.

Chairman Adam Rynearson said making a community engagement plan would be a key component of getting information to voters. He reminded the Board that the March 2019 bond returned just a 49 percent approval by voters

“We have plenty of information to start the conversation,” said Rynearson. “We need to do our due diligence and present it to the community first in a formal way then an informal way. I think this needs to be interweaved with what Superintendent Gilbert [has] had some training on.”

Rynearson added that since the vote, the community has given the District feedback he hopes will be used in running a future bond. He noted that comments suggest the community still loves Payette High School’s dome gymnasium.

Rynearson suggested asking the community what ways they wish to be approached on the topic.

Trustee Andy Kirkendall pointed out the fact this discussion coincides with the Board’s discussion on March 17 to adopt a 4-day school week.

“The need is there … I don’t know if the timing is right, but that might change,” said Kirkendall, who acknowledged the deadline for the May election would be cutting things close. The District can run a bond measure in March, May, August or November of a given year. 

Rynearson suggested the earliest the District should consider a bond is August.

Strong added that she felt it was the same people responding to previous community polls.

“We have to really get other people,” Strong said. “I know that we try, but it’s getting more than the two hundred responses… I’d like to see fifty percent of the people giving us ideas, ‘do you want us to [run a bond] or do you want us to put a band-aid on the roof?’”

Trustee Terrie Cathcart-Shurte noted that there would be difficulty involved in getting responses to engagement efforts.

“We’re not selling anything, we’re reaching out to them so they can reach out to us,” she added.

Rynearson added that he wanted to see careful effort made, as he doesn’t want to divide the community over this.

“I want the community to drive it,” Rynearson said.

More importantly, Strong said that whether the District attempts a bond this year or not, there’s still much to be done now.

Earlier in the meeting, Superintendent Robin Gilbert unveiled plans for a new gymnasium, commons and cafeteria space on the east end of the Payette High School campus, as well as more classroom space for the school’s Career Technical Education program and retaining the dome as a practice gym. She reported an estimated cost of $300 per square foot for this project.

As this was not an action plan, and because a community engagement plan is still pending, no action was taken during the meeting.

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