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Medical Lake to vote on school bond

THURSDAY, DEC. 17, 2009

$15.6 million would improve two schools

Voters in the Medical Lake School District will decide in February whether to approve a 20-year, $15.6 million bond that would add classrooms and other improvements to two schools and tear down Medical Lake Elementary.

Superintendent Pam Veltri told the school board Tuesday night that a facilities committee had been formed to discuss a study and survey completed by architects and engineers about the district’s buildings.

Veltri said Medical Lake Elementary School was built in the 1950s and there are problems with the electrical system. It’s not feasible to add more electrical wires throughout the building, and if the district chose to simply re-wire the system there would need to be a significant amount of asbestos removal. The building has a boiler and water pipes to heat the classrooms, but the pipes have become plugged over the years and many students wear coats in class. The roof needs to be replaced and there is no fire suppression system. Veltri said it would be more expensive to modernize the school than it would be to build a new one.

“Right now, it’s not really the best environment for children,” Veltri told the board.

After reviewing the study, the facilities committee came up with four options to deal with the elementary school.

The first is to do nothing. The second option is what Veltri called a “Band-Aid approach” to Medical Lake Elementary School – fix some problems at a cost of $2 million. The third option is to build a new elementary school.

The committee recommended a fourth option to the board, which is to demolish Medical Lake Elementary, which houses students from pre-school through the third grade.

Hallett Elementary School, which serves students in the fourth, fifth and sixth grades, would add six new classrooms and house students through the fifth grade if the bond is approved. Medical Lake Middle School would add 12 new classrooms, a new gym and a commons area to serve students in the sixth through the eighth grades. The Medical Lake Elementary site would be turned into playfields.

Veltri said if approved, the projects would go out for bid in June and construction could start as early as August. Students and staff could expect to move into their new schools in August 2011.

Veltri also said the district will know later this week how much taxpayers would be expected to pay per $1,000 of assessed property value.

It’s not the first time the district has asked voters for a bond to deal with the problems of Medical Lake Elementary School. The district most recently proposed a $19.5 million bond to the voters in March 2008. That measure failed to receive the 60 percent supermajority approval required for a bond.

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