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ASD bond would improve schools

 

January 17, 2018 | View PDF

Christopher Andersson

Mark Webb, an Arlington School District maintenance worker, helps install a new air filter system in one of the classrooms at Post Middle School on Jan. 11.

Arlington School District voters will make a decision on Feb. 13 regarding a $107.5 million bond proposal which funds a variety of projects, including replacing Post Middle School.

All schools would receive some improvements, including a variety of safety and security features, but the biggest parts of the bond include a replacement for Post Middle School and an eight-classroom expansion for Arlington High School.

The proposal is timed now to start while the district is paying off the last years of their previous bond proposal.

"Because of that we can issue new bonds without asking for a tax rate increase," said Brian Lewis, executive director of operations.

Previous bonds will be paid off in 2020. After that the district estimates the local school property tax rate will be a little more than $3 per $1,000 of assessed property value.

Currently the rate is a little less than $5 per $1,000 of assessed property value.

The decrease is in part due to the district losing the ability to tax as much for their Maintenance and Operations levy.

That money is meant to be made up by state tax dollars and an increase in state property rates.

District officials still estimate that the combined rate will still be lower though.

In 2017 the state and local combined rate was $7 per $1,000 of assessed property value.

If the bond passes, district estimates put the combined rate at around $6 per $1,000 of assessed property value in 2021 with a decline after that.

Post Middle School needs to be replaced, in part, because it would be "impossible to secure" said Lewis.

"Every classroom door opens to the exterior," he said.

Although modernization was considered in lieu of replacement, it would cost 75 percent to 80 percent of a replacement to make the building up to code as it would involve replacing the roof, HVAC system, every window and door, and making changes for ADA compliance.

"And we haven't even gotten to helping kids learn, that's just the cost to modernize it," said Post Middle School principal Voni Walker.

A rebuild would also increase student capacity and add the option for an expansion in the future .

That's important for Post Middle School as about 340 family apartments or homes have been constructed, or are scheduled to be completed soon, that feed into the school.

"So we've got more kids coming and this would help us provide adequate educational space for them," said Lewis.

The school was built in 1981 and Walker said that it requires a lot of work by the staff and students to make the building work.

"We have makeshift ways to run technology to some of our wings, because when this building was built we didn't even really use computers yet," she said.

The bond also includes an eight classroom addition to Arlington High School, with an arts and technology workshop as well, which would be utilized by the drama department to build sets and by the robotics club.

Better entryways, so that visitors have to go through a school office when entering a building, would be installed at all schools.

"It does happen, people come into these buildings that are not supposed to be here, so this would help us control that," said Lewis.

In addition, security cameras and improved door locks would be installed.

Play field improvements and a track replacement are also part of the bond proposal.

"We have some pretty drainage issues at some of these fields," said Lewis.

A bus shelter for students at Arlington High School is included.

"It rains a lot here and sometimes those students are here for 15 minutes at a time. They don't always carry coats so we would like to provide a bus shelter for them," said Lewis.

Kent Prairie Elementary would receive traffic improvements designed to help during pick-up and drop-off times.

"The traffic backs on the street all the way from the school back to Portage Creek," said Lewis.

Eagle Creek and Post Middle School are also the only schools without fire sprinklers throughout the entire building.

Post would receive those in a rebuild and Eagle Creek would get those added in.

"Buildings that are complex like this, firefighters don't want to go inside the building to put it out, they'd rather have a fire suppression system there," said Lewis.

Community bond presentations will continue in the following weeks, including community presentations on Jan. 19 at noon and Jan. 30 at 8 a.m. at the District Office at 315 N French Avenue.

"Its been good going out talking to people who had a lot of really good questions," said Lewis. "Though the ultimate test is on election day."

Election day is Feb. 13 and ballots will be mailed out on Jan. 25. Bonds in Washington state must receive 60 percent of the vote to pass.

More information about the bond is available at asd.wednet.edu/bond.

 

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