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Distractions a worry in Davis as big school-bond vote nears

SHARE Distractions a worry in Davis as big school-bond vote nears

FARMINGTON — Davis School District officials hope a $190 million bond election set for Feb. 5 won't find voters so distracted by the opening of the 2002 Winter Games that they neglect to go to the polls.

"We are concerned. There are many competing activities," said J. Dale Christensen, special projects director. But, he said, the district has spent a considerable amount of time promoting the election and hopes support will be evident at the polls. The money is pinpointed for new schools and upgrades to others at a time the district is experiencing significant growth.

A Dan Jones & Associates poll commissioned by the Davis Board of Education last fall showed strong support for the bond issue, Christensen said. Eighty-one percent of those polled said they supported the issue. The bonds will not increase taxes, but will deprive taxpayers of some relief they might have expected as an earlier bond issue is paid off.

Marjorie Bailey, who was asked to be an election judge, said she fears there is little interest in the election. She was herself surprised to be called as an election worker and had not been aware until then that the vote had been called. "I'm afraid it is going to slide right by," she said, based on her conversations with friends, who also appeared unaware of the pending election.

After considering four dates on which the election might legally be held, the district chose Feb. 5 so they wouldn't "miss the window to begin construction work this spring," said Christensen.

A districtwide education program has included meetings with school personnel, community meetings in high schools and information packets sent home with children. Another information package, including voting sites, will go home with children within the next couple of weeks, he said. Fifty-four voting districts will be available. Absentee ballots also may be obtained by calling Christensen at 402-5299. Some 250 applications for absentee ballots have already been received, he said.

Community meetings have elicited "a question or two but no formal opposition," Christensen said. The Utah Taxpayers Association has not registered any opposition to the proposal.

Among many projects that will be funded by the bond income, if approved, will be replacement of Davis High School and North Davis Junior High's aging facilities. Three new elementary schools, in West Farmington and in south and west central areas of the county, will be built, and a new high school, tentatively slated for opening in 2008, will be built in the Syracuse area.

The number of births in Davis County was about 300 per year in 1940. It now stands at about 5,000 per year. Many of the district's schools are stretched beyond the limit, even with the use of portable units, Christensen said. For the foreseeable future, the need for upgrading old buildings and constructing new ones is likely to be an ever-present demand on taxpayers.

E-mail: tvanleer@desnews.com