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Election Preview: Proposed Liberty School District bond to pay for infrastructure renovations

The Liberty School District is hoping to pass a $12.9 million bond this November to replace aging equipment.

“We’ve got an old heating system which makes it difficult to learn,” said Liberty High School Principal Aaron Fletcher. “The air conditioner and the heating systems are really loud and make it hard to hear in the classroom.”

The high school was built in 1960, said Superintendent Kyle Rydell. Renovating that is the first priority, although the elementary and junior high buildings also need work, he said. The proposed renovations will try to maximize the life expectancy of the buildings.

“They wanted to provide a facility that was going to extend 20 or 30 years the life of that building, versus going out for the Taj Mahal kind of thing,” Rydell said.

The Liberty School District covers most of southeastern Spokane County and has about 430 students. Currently, taxpayers in the district pay about 74 cents per $1,000 assessed property value for school bonds. That would increase to $1.91 per $1,000 if the measure passes, according to the district. To win approval the proposal needs 60 percent support.

In addition to the high school HVAC system, bond money would be used to build a new gymnasium renovate bathrooms, locker rooms and install wireless Internet. The bond also would support security updates in the elementary and junior high schools, upgrade the softball and baseball fields and separate the football field and track field. Currently, track and football share a field, which is a potential safety hazard, Fletcher said.

Bond money also would make it possible for buses to pick up and drop off students at both the elementary and middle school and the high school without leaving school property. Currently, buses have to drive onto public roads when going between the high school and elementary school, even though the two share property.

The district is eligible to apply up to $1.8 million in state construction matching funds. The renovations and installations would be complete in the fall or winter of 2017.

“We’ve got a very supportive community out here,” Rydell said. “When you have a one-site campus, everybody from K-12 is in support of making improvements to it.”

Correction: Due to a reporting error a previous version of this story failed to mention that bond money would also go toward building a new gymnasium. The story has been corrected.

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