Our View
To the members of the Grand County School Board
Jan 31, 2019 | 308 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
We were shocked to learn that you planned to borrow to build a new middle school without putting it in front of the voters when you clearly had plenty of time to get it on the ballot. For over 100 years, the district has included the voters in the decisions about whether or not to borrow money to build new schools. When the district decided to build a new high school, it gave the community a plan, which was rejected by the voters. The district came back with a revised plan, which the voters approved, and the new high school was built. Likewise, the new elementary school and vocational school were put before the voters and approved. The kind of bond you are planning for this new middle school, since it’s not voter approved, carries a higher interest rate than the type used by the district since its inception. In this case, the additional interest costs to the taxpayers will be well over a million dollars.

We began collecting signatures to request a bond election when we saw the notice in the paper; this was over the Thanksgiving holiday, and by then, we only had a little over two weeks to collect 1,076 signatures, which is 20 percent of the active voters per the county clerk. We collected well over that number. You had those signatures certified by the county clerk. There were an additional 180 signatures that the clerk didn’t certify because of the format of the petition. Even so, the county clerk declared the petition drive successful, which meant the school board should hold an election.

The school board deemed the superintendent to be the person to certify the petition, which is allowed by law, even though there is an obvious conflict of interest in this case. The county clerk is the one who certifies the signatures and legally can also certify the petition. After the school board got the certified signatures back from the county clerk, you changed the number of voters required to the number of voters registered at the END of the petition period. At this point, the superintendent declared that the petition failed. The county clerk asked the county attorney for clarification on the process. The county attorney’s opinion stated that our petition was successful based on the number of voters at the beginning of the petition process and in addition, that the other signatures also should be certified and counted. Of those, over 100 were certified by the county clerk as registered voters. Our petition drive, no matter how you count the signatures, was successful. We fully expected the school board to show the voters their plan, the cost, etc., and put this on the ballot.

By the time we realized that the school board was going to ignore the voters’ petition and the county clerk and county attorney’s opinions and we consulted an attorney, the 30 days (which included Christmas and New Years) in which we could take action had expired. It is obvious to the voters in Grand County that the school board didn’t put this in front of the voters because, without more planning and information, it would not have passed. The school board purposely excluded voters from being able to vote on this and then ignored the voters who voiced a desire to vote!

Moab is a small community of which we are all a part and the voters need to have a say in a major expenditure like this since it involves our property taxes. We expect the school board to do what’s right not only for our children but also to be responsible with our property tax dollars. Our petition drive was clearly about the right to vote; it was not about whether or not to build a new school. We strongly feel that this has been poorly planned and it will set in motion a way for the school board to spend taxpayer dollars without ANY voter input, which means that property taxes will go up and up.

Also, word is coming out that some of the district employees who signed the petition, which is their constitutional right, have been contacted by the district. This is of great concern.

We strongly urge the school board to reconsider their decision and involve the citizens of Grand County in their planning and building process for a new middle school.

This letter went to all the school board members last week. We would like to thank everyone who took the time and trouble to sign the petition asking the school board to put the middle school on a bond election.

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