Meridian School Dist. wants $104 million to build new schools

MERIDIAN, Idaho (KBOI) - The Meridian School District is moving forward with plans to ask voters for a $104 million school bond coming up in August.

The district says overcrowding has become a crisis in some of its school, and will only get worse with at least 650 new students expected to come into the school system for the 2014-2015 school year.

"To see the poster child of it you go to Lake Hazel Middle School, a school built for 1,000 but there are 1,425 kids and that number will go up by next fall," district spokesman Eric Exline said.

Parents with kids have noticed the bigger classroom sizes, even at the Elementary level.

"I can definitely see the overcrowding on an everyday basis at school," parent Megan Kyle said.

Growth isn't a new concept to the Meridian School District. Exline has been with the Meridian School District since 1998, and says he's seen it explode since then.

"I've worked for the district for 16 years, and I've done 19 ribbon cuttings," he said. "When I started there were 20,000 kids, we now have 36,100."

The spike in numbers shouldn't be surprising. According to the US Census Bureau, Meridian is the 10th fastest growing city in the country. But Exline says he doesn't expect that growth to slow anytime soon. Instead, he expects the district to one day have 90,000 students.

"In this district, if we continue to see the construction, the permitting...what comes with it is the need to build new schools," he said.

To keep up with growth, the district will ask voters for 104 million dollars on a bond. Exline said the bond would pay for two new middle schools and one new elementary school. The first middle school would help relieve the overcrowding issues at Lake Hazel Middle School, and would be located on Stoddard Street south of Overland Road.

The bond would pay for the expansion of Meridian High School, and would also allow the district to purchase more sites to build schools on in the future.

All of the money needed for the bond would come from property taxes.

"If you owned a $100,000 home right now, the portion you pay for bond would go up $2.42," Exline said.

Most parents KBOI 2News talked to said the $104 million price tag would be well worth their students getting a more personalized classroom experience.

"Overall I think it's just important for children to get the most education they can get," Kyle said.

"Education is so important for all of our futures so I'd be absolutely supportive of it," Meridian School District parent Marcie Ellison said.

The bond needs a super majority to pass in August. If that happens, the district tells KBOI 2News the first middle school would be completed by the fall of 2016. The second one would be planned for the fall of 2017 or 2018.