Why Now?

The Bear Lake School District School Board strategically plans and implements the maintenance, repairs, and the construction of facilities within the district.  Over the years, it has become apparent that a major investment is need to ensure the facilities will continue to serve the Bear Lake Community for generations to come.

With this bond, the District is proposing the following:

  • Build a new Bear Lake Middle School
  • Replace the nearly 100 year-old section of Georgetown Elementary School
  • Add an auditorium, and upgrade classrooms at Bear Lake High School

Why Build a New Bear Lake Middle School?

  • The building is 81 years old.
  • The facility presents numerous seismic and access issues.
  • There are no science labs within the school
  • Internet/Wi-Fi access is very difficult to set up and maintain
  • The layout makes it difficult to secure in case of emergency
  • The water and sewer pipes break often

Major renovations to the current middle school building to address these and other issues would far exceed the cost of a new building.

Why replace the original section of Georgetown Elementary School?

  • This part of the building is 92-years old
  • The facility presents numerous seismic issues
  • The kitchen doesn’t meet current codes
  • The layout makes it difficult to secure in case of emergency

Why add an auditorium, and upgrade classrooms at Bear Lake High School?

  • There are no windows in the majority of classrooms.
  • The roof structure in the gymnasium and shops are not to current seismic standards
  • The science labs are too small to meet the teaching needs
  • Clover Creek is located in a portable classroom that needs repairs
  • The heating system is failing and needs to be replaced
  • The exterior walls on the north and south of the classroom are poorly insulated and leak
  • An auditorium would better serve the high school than the middle school, and would continue to be shared by both and the community

All three of these facilities also have inefficient heating systems, electrical systems that do not meet modern technology needs, high utility costs and expensive ongoing maintenance each year. Additionally, all three roofs leak and need ongoing repairs.

By replacing the oldest buildings in the District, and upgrading the high school, the Board can ensure future generations of students in Bear Lake County have the same learning opportunities that are available in other communities.

The future success of our students will be on how prepared they are for their eventual career choice. The job market of 2029 and beyond will likely look quite different from today’s career landscape.

According to several reports, problem-solving will be “the most important skill for students’ future.” Additional skills of note were communication and team-working.

Others are:

  • Critical thinking
  • Leadership
  • Awareness (Cultural, Global, & Environmental)
  • Creativity
  • Innovation

Project Goals

The Bear Lake School District’s six current buildings have an average age of 61 years. The last major project (Bear Lake High School) was designed and built decades before personal computers, and the internet became commonplace in schools. The older the buildings are, the more difficult it is to facilitate 21st Century Learning.

The District’s goals are to:

  • Incorporate new seismic, safety, and security features.
  • Focus on “learning flexibility” for the students.
  • Provide a variety of spaces to support different learning styles and group learning.
  • Be able to accommodate evolving technologies, including robotics and Artificial Intelligence.
  • Teach beyond the classroom with buildings that enable opportunities for learning in ALL areas of the school.
  • Have the “educational agility” in the decades to come; making sure students in the future can be trained for careers that currently do not exist.


SCHOOLS Year of Completion Current Age
Georgetown Elementary 1927 (Addition 1980) 92
Bear Lake Middle School 1938 81
Bear Lake Middle School Gym 1955 64
AJ Winters Elementary 1960 (Gym Addition 2001) 59
Paris Elementary 1979 (Addition 1981) 38
Bear Lake High School 1982 (New Addition 2000) 37

If the District were to replace one of its schools every 15 years, it would take 60 years to rebuild our current facilities. This bond addresses the needs of today’s students with three of these projects (that could be built in two years) and pays for them in half the time.

By replacing and/or renovating Bear Lake Middle School, Bear Lake High School, and Georgetown Elementary School, the District will save the levy funds typically used to repair these facilities and have the ability to spend these monies on the other schools in the District.

Georgetown Elementary

Replace Now 

Bear Lake Middle School

96 Years

Bear Lake Middle School Gym

79 Years
(replaced with MS)

AJ Winters Elementary 

89 Years

Paris Elementary

83 Years

Bear Lake High School

97 Years

Can you imagine how education will change by the year 2080? The needs of students will be drastically different as technologies and curriculums evolve. (For example, in 1927 when Georgetown Elementary was built, Henry Ford revealed the Ford Motor Company’s newest vehicle, the Model A!)”

Additionally, construction costs will continue to rise dramatically. The average per-year construction cost increases rise three and a half percent. In the last few years, costs have risen as high as ten percent per year.

With a conservative, yearly construction cost inflation of 3.5 percent, $100 today would be $162 in 15 years (2034). So the  District is saving taxpayers money over time by building now.

Three-Year Combined Maintenance Costs for the Three Schools Proposed to be Replaced

The Bear Lake County School District periodically asks residents to support a local property tax, called a levy, which helps finance the operations, repairs, and modernization of the District’s buildings. The following are the total three-year repair and maintenance costs of each of the three current buildings*:

Three-Year Combined Costs
for Bear Lake Middle School


Three-Year Combined Costs
for Bear Lake High School


Three-Year Combined Costs for Georgetown Elementary School


(*excludes cost of maintenance department labor)

Determining the Best Options for the BLSD

After extensive discussion and research with bond/financial advisors, architects, and a construction management firm (all which specialize in K12 schools), four options were explored for the Bear Lake School District project.

Option A


The District first investigated the possibility of renovating the current middle school building. The unique challenges of the 81-year old, historic structure include:

  1. Antiquated construction materials (unreinforced masonry walls, window systems that cannot be easily replaced, asbestos, lead, etc.)
  2. “Uncommon” and obsolete construction techniques (little or no insulation, no ventilation, no handicapped access, etc.)
  3. Lack of original documentation/plans (to limit costly hidden details and unforeseen conditions)

Bringing older buildings in line with modern functionality isn’t easy. Making new HVAC, electrical, life safety, and high-tech systems “fit” into an old envelope often involves more complex installations. Plumbing upgrades are often very difficult, as piping systems are buried within unstable concrete foundations.

The preliminary evaluation made by the facility consultant, architects, and construction manager determined that the current Bear Lake Middle School would need:

  1. Major seismic structural upgrade
  2. Upgrades to exterior walls, windows and doors to meet federal energy code requirements
  3. New roof
  4. New mechanical & plumbing system
  5. New fire sprinklers
  6. New electrical, high-tech, communications, and security system
  7. All new finishes (new drywall, flooring, tile, equipment, millwork, etc.)

Early cost estimates are in the range of $28 to $32 million dollars. A definitive budget would have involved a comprehensive structural, systems, and civil study of the building.

Other cost considerations were:

  1. Possible additions
  2. Tie-in to gym building
  3. Seismic and systems upgrades to gym building

Also, due to the extensive work needed to renovate the middle school, it was assumed that the students/staff could not occupy the building while work was being performed. A group of portable classrooms/restrooms (trailers) for students and staff would be installed at the existing high school so that the contractor would have the ability to work on the entire school all at once to shorten the construction schedule and limit costs. This would also eliminate safety issues, complicated phasing, and disruptions to the students’ learning environment.

With all the factors involved with renovating the current Bear Lake Middle School, the Board decided that this option was too expensive and addressed too few of the needs of all the students of the District.

Option B

After learning that a renovation of the current Bear Lake Middle School would be both cost-prohibitive and would take years, the District explored the idea of a new high school and site, with the current high school also remodeled to accommodate the middle school. It was determined that the cost for this option was more than for the amount the District can legally bond or afford. For example, the cost to bring roads and utilities to a new high school site and to replicate the square footage of both the current Bear Lake High School shops (CTE spaces) and auxiliary athletic spaces at a new high school would have been too costly.

Option C

The next option explored was to build a new middle school and replace the core learning areas in the center of the high school. This option also had a new auditorium near the high school, and that the portables that consist of the Clover Creek School would be removed, and space would be added to the high school for these students. This option also included a new roof, upgrades to the mechanical systems and seismic structure of the existing areas of the high school.

This option was also too expensive.

Option D

Similar to Option C, a new middle school and auditorium and Clover Creek expansion near the high school are included in Option D. However, rather than replacing the center of the high school, the north and south walls will be replaced with new walls with insulation, waterproofing and windows into classrooms. The mechanical system and roof will also be replaced, and the structure seismically upgraded to meet seismic needs.

This option was within, and slightly below, the bond goal for the District.

Option E

With the available funds by reducing the scope of the high school upgrades, the District is able to replace the original, 92-year-old portion of Georgetown Elementary School within this bond.

Final Bond Proposal:

  • Build a new Bear Lake Middle School
  • Replace the nearly 100 year-old section of Georgetown Elementary School
  • Add an auditorium, upgrade classrooms, replace the roof, and provide seismic stabilization at Bear Lake High School

Project Concepts

The architectural renderings presented below show both interior plans and exterior renderings. They were created to help the Bear Lake School District’s Board visualize the projects (based upon their meetings with the architects) and for the builder to provide cost information so that the projects stayed within budget. Please be aware that the plans are not set; these are examples of what each project could look like when complete. After the passage of the bond the District, Architect (VCBO), and CM/GC (Hogan) will hold public meetings where community members will be able to communicate their opinions on what spaces and designs could be incorporated into each of the projects. All ideas will be evaluated; however, designing and building the projects within budget will be the top priority.

Click the images in each section below to enlarge.
New Bear Lake Middle School
Bear Lake High School Remodels
New Auditorium at the High School
Georgetown Elementary School Rebuild


Planning for the Bear Lake School District’s current and future needs is one of the fundamental duties of the school board and district administrators. As such, there is a constant evaluation of facilities and other needs in light of the changing district population, the age of district-owned structures, new laws and codes (ADA-accessibility, for example), and changes in instruction and technologies that require space.

A school bond is a promissory note issued by the school district to fund school construction. The bonds are “general obligation,” meaning that they are backed by the full faith and credit of the District as a taxing entity. A school bond election is a measure placed on the ballot by the District’s school board to be approved or defeated by the voting public.

Bonds for school projects are very similar to a mortgage on a home. To finance the construction projects, the district sells bonds to investors who will be paid principal and interest. Bids are taken from interested buyers, usually large institutional investors, and are sold at the lowest interest rate offered. The payout, in this instance, is limited to 30 years.

The last bond that the Bear Lake School District had was paid off in 1999.

Proposed Projects


Construct New Middle School  $23.3 M

Construct New Auditorium @ HS    $8.2 M

Bear Lake HS remodels  $13.2 M

Georgetown  Rebuild    $4.2 M

Total  $48.9 M

15-Year vs. 30-Year Bond Comparison

15 yrs. $31.5 m ($309.16 per year on a $100,000 taxable value)

  • New Middle School
  • New HS Auditorium

30 yrs. $49 m ($310.37 per year on a $100,000 taxable value)

  • New Middle School
  • Georgetown Rebuild
  • New HS Auditorium
  • HS Renovations

With a tax increase of only $1.21 per year, going with 30-year bond provides more funding upfront to pay for four projects, as opposed to two for a 15-year bond. With construction costs climbing every year, this is the most economical option.

30-Year Tax Bond Breakdown
  • $49 Million on a 30-Year Bond
  • $100,000 Taxable Value = $310.37/Year
    • $25.86/Month
    • .85 cents/Day
  • $100,000 Valued Home w/Homeowners Exemption = $155.18/Year
    • $12.93/Month
    • .43 cents/Day

Additionally, 66 percent of taxes in the district are on second properties belonging to out-of-state owners.

Figure Your Own Bond Tax

(Click image to enlarge)

Total Tax Value  x .00310371   = Tax Amount
$52,545  x .00310371   = $163.08/yr increase

{Bear Lake Tax Statement Link}

How do OUR taxes compare to other districts?

Cost per $100,000 taxable value

District Current If Bond Passed
Bear Lake $140.30 No Bond $450.67
Preston $162.98 No Bond
North Gem $338.45 No Bond
Soda Springs $286.46
Grace $479.79
Ririe $506.20
Aberdeen $646.40
Westside $101.20 No Bond
Bear Lake County Valuation History
Year Taxable Value
Bear Lake County
Cost Per 100K
Taxable Value
1988 $151,000,000.00 $264.90
2018 $791,000,000.00 $50.57

Total Percentage Decrease Over 30 Years

Above Figures are Based on a $400,000 Levy
1988 Mill Rate 0.002649007
2018 Mill Rate 0.000505689

Current Construction Costs

The Bear Lake School District has engaged the services of the Intermountain West’s premier school builder, Hogan & Associates Construction, to assist with understanding the cost of each of the projects for this proposed bond. Hogan has built almost 500 schools since 1945 and has been the Construction Manager / General Contractor of 322 school projects since 1988.

The last bond for the Bear Lake School District was paid off in 1999. For a local comparison, Hogan Construction built the new Cokeville High School that same year. Nineteen years ago, CHS was completed for a cost per square foot of $82. From the graph below, we can see the cost increases Hogan has experienced from then to now.

Long term construction cost inflation has normally been double the consumer price inflation. Since 1993, the 25-year long-term annual construction inflation for buildings like schools has averaged 3.5%, even during the Great Recession. During the building boom period from 2004-2008, construction inflation averaged 8% per year for five years. The Great Recession (which lasted from 2007-2011) significantly slowed the cost increases, but only to what had been normal levels (3.5%).

Since 2014, however, the cost increases for commercial buildings (which includes schools) has been over 4% per year. In the rapid, economic growth period we recently experienced (2017 and 2018), new projects were in competition with the many buildings that were postponed during the Great Recession (and the slow recovery). During these two years, the construction cost inflation averaged more than 8% per year. The same percentage is predicted for 2019. Even with the predicted economic slowdown that may happen in the next few years, it’s predicted not to have a great effect on construction costs. As shown on the graph of Hogan’s 14 regional high school projects, costs do fluctuate—but the general direction of costs is up.


What keeps construction costs rising? At the start of this year, the nationwide demand for both commercial and residential buildings will continue to drive up the price of materials.  Construction projects in the United States are also in competition for materials in emerging countries. Most notably, the price of steel-made products has jumped as high 3.8 percent this year. Lumber prices are rising as well.

Also, there is a labor shortage in construction which has led to increased labor costs for both subcontractors and construction companies. The Great Recession led many skilled laborers to pursue careers in other industries. Although the demand for residential and commercial construction has reached pre-recession levels, there’s been a shift in how blue-collar work is perceived. The current generation of young workers is mostly disinterested in construction work. This has left us with an industry where skilled labor comes at a higher price.

The goal of these four projects is to use the funds of the bond in a wise, cost-effective manner. Aside from a new middle school, which is needed to replace the current 81-year building, the District is looking to repair and enhance Bear Lake High School and Georgetown Elementary with new additions that will be designed and constructed to last several decades—well past the 30-year life of this bond. Although cost is the number one concern, the benefit of building now is that the latest advancements in construction materials and methods will provide Bear Lake County residents new facilities that will last longer and perform better than in previous District buildings. With the ability to use the Construction Manager / General Contractor method of construction, which wasn’t available for our past projects, the Bear Lake School District has more contractual protections for budget oversight, schedule deadlines, quality work, and warranties for labor and materials than with the “low-bid” method used previously.


Due to the need, the time it takes to design the new facilities, and to avoid undue construction cost increases, the bond election will be held on:

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Please vote at your local polling location:


PARIS, ID 83261

St. Charles


Fish Haven

3999 US HWY 89


21620 US HWY 30


760 CLAY






DINGLE, ID 83233



Mail Out Precincts



The Bear Lake School District hired the services of Facility Planners, a firm from Caldwell, Idaho, for a preliminary district facilities assessment, information about school bonds in Idaho, and to perform a telephone survey.

Here are the results:

 # Yes / % Yes  # No / % No No Opinion
Do you currently live within the BLSD Boundaries?      200 / 100%  0 / 0% 0%
Have you been inside any of the BLSD facilities within the past 12 months?  105 / 53% 95 / 47%  0%
Do you believe the BLSD is making the best use of existing funding?     168 / 84%   30 / 16% .01%
Would you approve or disapprove for the current bond/project list:        149 / 75%   41 / 20% 5%

Would you approve or dissaprove a 30-year bond issue (for approximately $49M) to allow the BLSD to finance construction of the bond projects?

129 / 65%  61 / 31%  4%


Demographics of respondents – Female 39%; Male 32%




For more than 40 years, VCBO Architecture has delivered impeccable design, performance, innovation, and dedication to client service. As a top-five Intermountain Region architectural firm, we actively contribute to the built environment through meaningful projects.

Address: 524 South 600 East, Salt Lake City, UT 84102



Hogan Construction is a forward-thinking construction management, design-build, and general contracting firm with 300 employees serving nine Western states. We are the Intermountain West’s largest dedicated school builder, constructing approximately 20 K12 projects per year. Hogan has been working on K12 and educational projects almost as long as we have been a company—73 years. Since 1945, we have built almost 500 school projects!

Address: 940 North 1250 West, Centerville, UT 84014


Questions & Answers

We want your questions! If you have any concerns you’d like addressed, please use the form at the bottom of the page. We have posted the questions we’ve received and the answers below:


Thank you for your question on the comparisons between the Salmon SD bond and the Bear Lake SD bond numbers.

It appears that the answer to the differences in budgets is in how we, and they, have gone about getting the information about school design and current costs.

With the goal of ultimately being able to provide the citizens of Bear Lake County what we are proposing to build via the bond, the BLSD has engaged the services of a bond/building assessment consultant (Facility Planners), an architect (VCBO), and a construction manager (Hogan). These firms have advised for, designed and built hundreds of schools regionally and in Idaho. They have met with the District and Board on several occasions and have provided bond data, preliminary plans, and estimates.

Having these firms as part of our team gives the Bear Lake School District the ability to provide you and other citizens the information needed to make an informed voting decision.

The Salmon School District used Facility Planners in preparation for their bond, but have not officially selected an architect or a construction manager. We understand that at the SSD, the architectural selection is to take place soon and that the construction manager will be selected after the bond has passed. The Salmon District has been getting some numbers from the State of Idaho, but we are not sure how exactly they came up with their $25.6M bond number.

As school districts rely on the bond finance consultants, which are typically banks, to help them determine for how much money they can bond, that number is often mistakenly used as the budget for the project(s). As the Bear Lake School District investigated our facilities needs, we decided that specific school design and cost information was needed.

The $23.3 million budget for the proposed new Bear Lake Middle School includes the building costs per square foot, soft costs (property purchase, design fees, legal fees, insurance, bond financing costs, etc.), and an inflation contingency. The facility features the standard middle school square footage allotment per student and provides features of similar facilities in the region. It does include a larger gymnasium with the indoor track to serve the broader MS/HS campus, but there are cost-saving strategies utilized, like the classroom wing being three stories (lessening the footprint).

The proposed new Bear Lake Middle School was designed and estimated from average costs from VCBO and Hogan’s recent and similar school projects in the region. Facility Planners has also provided us with comparative costs from other recent Idaho school district project costs:   

Bear Lake                      Middle School                 $305

Vallivue                           Middle School                 $300

Minidoka                       CTE Bldg & add to ES      $275

Salmon                          K-8 School                        $300

Davis (UT)                     Elementary School         $308

Canyons (UT)                High School                      $318

The new Bear Lake Middle School will be approximately 61,000 total square feet. As of now, there are currently 269 middle school students in the District. The drawings shown of the proposed middle school on this website was designed for a total student capacity of 320 to account for (a little) possible growth. That is approximately 200 square foot per student.

We have this information to inform us, and you, of current costs. It’s unknown if the Salmon School District has this information. We are confident that the numbers supplied by our consultants will provide the appropriate funding to build the schools we are proposing for this bond.


Thank you for your question about the high school field and track.

The current football field will be re-leveled, the sod replaced, and new sprinkler heads installed. The track will also be resurfaced.

However, these are planned to be paid for through the levy and are not part of the bond. We will investigate if the field and track can be done during the construction phase of the bond projects so that we can save money with all the subcontractors in the area.

With the new roofs and facilities provided by the bond, levy funds saved on maintenance will allow more money spent on the field/track and other projects throughout the District. Please review the “Current Building Assessments” section for more information.


Thank you for your question about the procurement (bids) for this bond.

The subcontractor bids for this project have not taken place, as the bond has not passed and the architect has not been hired to provide a complete set of plans. However, once we request costs from subcontractors, we will request that they provide us their best, most cost-effective bid so we get the most “bang for the buck.”

The architect (VCBO) and construction manager (Hogan) were selected by the District to help with the bond. Last October, with the goal of getting updated information about construction costs, the Bear Lake School District openly asked local design and construction firms to submit proposals for their services. We received three design proposals and one construction proposal. VCBO stood out for their work in Idaho and regionally, and we were confident in Hogan because of their vast regional experience and that they had built several local high schools, including Star Valley, Cokeville, and Kemmerer. They were just recently hired by the Rich County School District for their two bond projects.    

If the bond passes, the District has the option of continuing with these two firms for a modest fee. VCBO and Hogan will be paid a small amount for their work to provide the early drawings/renderings and the estimates for us to know how much these projects will cost to build.

The budget for each of the four projects (which make up the total bond amount) are estimates provided to the District by the construction manager. These were based on the architect’s illustrative floor plans (see the “Project Concepts” section) and historical cost data from recent school construction projects.

The District and the architect met many times to determine each project’s requirements and goals. These early schematic drawings are the first step in the design process.


Thank you for your question about the Idaho statute that allows us to hold a bond election in March.

Holding an election in March does meet code, and is covered in 34-106 and reads as follows: “(7) Community colleges governed by chapter 21, title 33, Idaho Code, and school districts are subject to the limitations specified in subsection (1) of this section, except that school districts may also hold an election on the second Tuesday in March of each year and on the last Tuesday in August of each year on bonded indebtedness and property tax levy questions.

This also can be found at the following link:

Here is the link to Bear Lake School District #33 Board Meeting Notices/Agendas/Minutes:

All board meetings are open to the public. The District’s facility needs, assessment, and bond discussions took place within the following meetings:

  • January 8, 2019 (Agenda)
  • December 11, 2018 (Minutes)
  • December 5, 2018 (Minutes)
  • November 20, 2018 (Minutes)
  • November 13, 2018 (Minutes)
  • October 30, 2018 (Minutes)
  • October 18, 2018 (Minutes)
  • October 9, 2018 (Minutes)
  • September 2018 (Minutes)
  • August 2018 – Special Meeting (Minutes)
  • August 2018 (Minutes)
  • July 2018 (Minutes)
  • June 2018 (Minutes)

The District posts minutes after the board votes to accept them in the meeting following. So the board will approve the January minutes in the February 12th meeting and have them posted on the website.

This bond informational website went live as of 2/5/19, and we have a link on the District’s website at the address provided.

The mission of the Bear Lake School District #33

We will prepare every student to enter the college or career of their choice

The vision of the Bear Lake School District #33

Educating today’s students for tomorrow’s world.

We welcome your feedback.

This is a community project, and we want to make sure everyone feels heard and that the information is shared openly.

Please respectfully submit your questions and comments in the form below. We will quickly post the questions and answers in the section above.

12 + 6 =