June 12, 2014 in Washington Voices

CV bond looks to future

By The Spokesman-Review
 

The Central Valley School Board unanimously approved a slate of projects to be included in a construction bond that will go before voters in February.

During a special board meeting Friday, Superintendent Ben Small said the capital facilities committee used ThoughtStream to help decide on the projects. ThoughtStream is a Web-based program that collects ideas from community members and asks others to rank them according to their own priorities.

He said the No. 1 impression the district has received from people who participated was that they didn’t want a tax increase.

“We can’t solve all of our problems without an increase in taxes,” Small said, but the recommendations will help with some of them.

Participants also expressed concerns about overcrowding issues and keeping students at their neighborhood schools.

“Our parents don’t like busing and they don’t like overflow,” Small said.

The plan, which Small called a framework for the future package, includes projects that address overcrowding in schools and won’t raise taxes for residents because it would replace the bond voters approved in 1998 to build the two new high schools. Small said plans would be refined before the school board votes in December on a resolution to put the construction bonds on the February ballot.

The recommendations include the work needed to update and renovate the former Yoke’s at Sprague and Progress, which will house Barker High School and the Early Learning Center.

Small told the school board they will vote whether to approve the purchase of the former Yoke’s during the June 23 meeting. He also discussed some design options the staff is considering, including separate entrances for the two programs, skylights and restrooms.There are also structural upgrades the district must complete as it transitions to a public building.

Small said there is a place for a future gymnasium, a multipurpose room and a kitchen.

The plan also includes a new 624-student elementary school on the east side of the district as well as modernizing and increasing the capacity at Greenacres, Chester, Ponderosa, Sunrise and Opportunity elementary schools.

At the middle school level, the plan calls for looking at redrawing school boundaries and expanding Evergreen’s capacity to 750 students. Right now, the capacity of that middle school is 600 students.

“We’re over that,” Small said.

The proposal includes funds to determine needs for a potential third high school and for land acquisition for a new location for North Pines Middle School – community members have raised concern about the school’s location on a busy arterial.

Small said the cost has not been finalized for all of the projects, but estimates place the total at about $170.1 million. He estimates $112.9 million of that would come from local funds and the district should receive about $57.8 million in state matching funds.


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