February 24, 2011 in Washington Voices

East Valley seeks $33.75 million bond

Issue will go to voters April 26
By The Spokesman-Review

Voters in the East Valley School District will be asked to approve a $33.75 million bond April 26.

The school board unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday to put the issue on the ballot. The decision came after a year of discussions within the district and community members to restructure the way students are taught.

The bond would pay for renovations and improvements to Trentwood, East Farms, Otis Orchards, Skyview and Trent elementary schools. East Valley Middle School would be changed to the district offices, would gain a student enrichment center, and would receive a technology upgrade. The decision to put the bond in front of the voters comes after discussions to combine East Valley’s elementary and middle schools to prekindergarten through eighth grade. The board looked at studies that showed the configuration has a positive impact on student achievement and social development.

East Valley hasn’t passed a bond since 1996.

Although the district is asking taxpayers for $33.75 million, it also expects $32.5 million in state matching funds, almost dollar for dollar. If approved, taxpayers can expect an increase of about 86 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value.

At the board meeting Tuesday, Superintendent John Glenewinkel discussed a section of the resolution that included a hardware and technology upgrade.

“This is a very good use of taxpayers’ money,” he said.

Board Chairman Mitch Jensen said he read the resolution, prepared by the district’s bond attorneys, Foster Pepper, more than once and thought the language was extremely helpful.

“I think it’s fabulous,” Jensen said. “It’s captured everything we asked it to.”

Glenewinkel has said in the past that converting its neighborhood schools to PK-8 will create a catalyst for the way East Valley teaches its students.

The board feels so strongly about the changes that they have instructed Glenewinkel to construct a plan to make them whether the bond passes or not.

Opponents of the plan have worried that putting the younger students in the same building as the middle school students will expose the younger ones to drugs and alcohol.

Glenewinkel has said these generalizations of middle school students are unfair to those students who are generally doing a good job.

Ballots will be mailed to voters on April 8 and are due by April 26.

The bond needs a supermajority of 60 percent to pass.

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