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Arlington schools discuss bond proposal

 

September 20, 2017 | View PDF

Christopher Andersson

photo BY CHRISTOPHER ANDERSSON From left, Arlington High School student Danilo Carrasco, local parents Laura Denovan and Anne Wendt, and Arlington School District Director of Child Nutrition and Support Services Ed Aylesworth discuss how they would design a new Post Middle School during a community meeting about a potential Arlington schools bond on Sept. 14.

Arlington School District staff are preparing a recommendation for a bond proposal that could go to the voters in 2018 that would include rebuilding Post Middle School.

The district held a meeting with staff, local parents, community members and students on Sept. 14 about the potential bond.

The biggest proposed projects include a new Post Middle School and the expansion of the C-Wing at Arlington High School.

Brian Lewis, executive director of operations, said that the district has to plan now for future population growth.

District officials looked at multiple projections from different agencies and all showed increases in the number of students.

"In the mid-range and low-range estimate we're seeing a very gentle slope of growth, which is an indicator to us that we need to prepare for growth into the future," said Lewis.

With the increase in students, more space at the middle school and high school levels could be needed.

"We have needs across the district to either add, modernize or improve our buildings," said Lewis.

The last bond for the district, which passed in 2000, will be expiring in 2020, said Lewis.

"So what this provides us is an opportunity to improve our buildings and improve our education without increasing taxes," said Lewis.

Once the bond expires tax rates would drop, but if a new bond is crafted correctly it could keep tax rates level.

The biggest project on a potential bond would likely be the new Post Middle School.

An Arlington Facility Advisory Committee studied the district's buildings in 2014 and recommended a rebuild rather than a renovation.

"What they found was that just to get the current building up to code, which we would have to do to increase the functionality of the building, it would cost 75 percent of a new building," said Lewis.

"At that point we'd gain a lot more advantage in the long run by replacing a 50-year building instead of investing in this structure," he said.

The district has also been studying the slop at the school and recently received results.

"The soil on the slope is very well compacted, it does not show the potential for a slide," said Lewis.

"There were recommendations that we build a new building 100 feet away from the edge of the slope, instead of the 50 feet away that we have right now," he added.

A new Post Middle School would likely be built in unoccupied land around the campus, according to district officials.

Students would move in after the new building is finished and the old building would be taken down after.

McGranahan Architects have been hired by the district to design the next Post Middle School. They also designed the current Arlington High School.

"It's kind of special for us to come back to Arlington. We worked with this community on the design of Arlington High School, and now we get to come back for another major project," said Michael McGavock, a principal at McGranahan Architects.

"We're hoping this is an environment where you might develop a passion into a purpose," he said.

An expansion to Arlington High School would add eight classrooms to the campus.

"The C-Wing was designed by McGranahan with the ability to expand," said Lewis.

A large multipurpose room could also be added to the school, said Lewis.

"This would be to accommodate the construction of sets for the drama program or provide a large construction place for the robotics program," he said.

All schools in the district could receive improvements with the bond, including security vestibules for school entrances, interior door locks, surveillance cameras and replacing heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment.

The play fields at elementary schools also have some water drainage problems that could be fixed with a bond.

"Our elementary school play fields retain water and are sloppy in the winter time," said Lewis.

The two oldest elementary schools in the district, Kent Prairie and Eagle Creek, could receive new floors.

Upgrades to the district's transportation center could also be implemented with a new bond.

"If you've been to our transportation center you're acquainted with the condition of the bus yard," said Lewis.

"It actually caused an injury last year because it has potholes in it," he said.

Arlington Superintendent Chrys Sweeting said that one of her first goals as Arlington's superintendent last year was to start up a new bond process.

"When I was hired last year, one of the leadership opportunities and challenges was to re-engage the facility advisory committee," she said.

Sweeting hopes to get all stakeholders, including students and parents involved with the process.

District staff are planning to present a recommendation for a potential bond to the school board on Oct. 3.

The board would likely come back at a later meeting to either approve or reject the recommendation.

If a proposal is approved before Dec. 15 the bond could be on the February 2018 ballot.

 

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