The Blaine School District will be asking voters to approve a $32 million bond to upgrade facilities, including Blaine High School, and purchase property in Birch Bay, according to Superintendent Ron Spanjer.
The Blaine School Board decided on Monday, July 26 to put the issue to voters in April.
A similar bond was approved by more than 50 percent of district voters in 2008, but under state rules, bonds must pass with a 60 percent super majority.
More information to come soon.
Update: 1 p.m.
Here’s more information about the bond:
Voters in the Blaine School District will be asked to approve a $32 million bond this spring to upgrade several district facilities and purchase land in Birch Bay for a future school.
The Blaine School Board approved putting the issue on the April 2011 ballot at a meeting Monday night, July 26.
If approved, the bond would likely last for 10 to 15 years and would cost about 33 cents per $1,000 of a property’s assessed value.
District residents currently pay about $2.07 per $1,000 of assessed value for the maintenance and operations levy and a 2001 bond.
The majority of the new bond, about $28.7 million, will be for upgrades and new construction at Blaine High School. Plans include upgrading heating and ventilation systems for more efficiency, enclosing the campus to reduce the number of entrances, upgrading science rooms, and constructing about 89,000 square-feet of new space.
Other projects the bond would fund include: remodeling space at Blaine Middle School for the Life Skills special education program, upgrading five classrooms at Blaine Elementary School and enclosing the covered play area at Blaine Primary School.
While district officials and school board members agree there are other district facilities that need upgrades – the district transportation site, Blaine Elementary’s cafeteria, the district’s stadium and the Pipeline fields – they decided to focus on items that will have more impact on the core instructional program of the district.
About $2 million of the bond would be put aside for purchasing property in the Birch Bay area. While there are no current plans for a new school, district officials have long talked about the eventual need of an elementary school there and want to take advantage of lower purchase costs.
“We can’t accurately predict the future, but if we can invest in property now at a rate that’s favorable, we don’t want to look back and say, ‘we wish we had,’” said Superintendent Ron Spanjer.
The high school project is eligible for about $1 million in state matching funds, which the district will apply for, however it’s not necessary for the project to be completed. The state money, whenever it arrives, would likely be used for equipment purchase or could possibly be used to upgrade the high school track.
This is the second time in three years voters in the district have been asked to approve a bond. A $40 million bond request for similar projects in 2008 received about 54.5 percent voter approval, but bonds are required to have a 60 percent super majority supporting them to pass.
Even though the economy is weaker than before and the new bond would raise taxes, Spanjer and board members hope people support the measure because the district’s facility needs are growing and construction and financing costs are low.
“There are a lot of reasons for people to be concerned at (new taxes) at this time with the economy the way it is,” said Superintendent Ron Spanjer. “But we’re letting voters make that choice.”