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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Schools seeking relief

Residents of the Liberty School District in south Spokane County will be asked to pass a $435,000 capital projects bond and a $460,000 technology levy on the March 11 ballot to pay to replace leaky roofs and aging computer servers.

The roof on the combined elementary and junior high school hasn’t been replaced since 1984, said district superintendent Bill Motsenbocker. “It’s a 20-year roof,” he said. “Our roof has actually outlasted its lifetime.”

The bond is planned for 6.5 years and would cost homeowners 88 cents per $1,000 in assessed home value per year while the four-year technology levy would cost taxpayers 26 cents per $1,000 in value, said district superintendent Bill Motsenbocker. The technology levy is something new for the district, though a maintenance and operations levy that provides about 24 percent of the district’s budget is regularly renewed.

The roof has been plagued with leaks in the last year. One recent leak in the gym, warped a portion of the polished floor, which will have to be re-sanded. “We were able to get to it quick enough that it didn’t cause permanent damage,” he said.

It’s the job of facilities manager Janet Johnson to head up to the roof with roofing tar when a leak is discovered. “We’ve done some patching, but it reaches the point when it’s just not enough,” she said.

The district also plans to repair or replace parking lots, an access road between the schools and a portion of the elementary playground used for basketball and other activities. “The high school parking lot is kind of notorious,” Motsenbocker said. “It’s all potholes.”

The technology levy would provide new computer servers and upgraded wiring as well as new computers. The district’s computers were provided by the Computers for Kids program that provides refurbished computers that have been discarded by the Navy and other government agencies. Teachers often are reluctant to use the computer labs because they have to spend so much instructional time trying to get the computers to work, Motsenbocker said. The computers are also slowed by small hard drives and limited memory.

The district includes the towns of Spangle, Fairfield, Waverly, Plaza, Latah and Mount Hope. Though it spans a large geographical area, the district includes only about 480 students. Motsenbocker has been telling residents about the planned bond and levy at the luncheons he hosts in rotating locations each month. He also has attended local City Council meetings to talk about the district’s needs. Motsenbocker said he’s received a lot of questions, but no real opposition.

The district includes a lot of farms, and Motsenbocker said the recent higher wheat prices may have made people more receptive to the idea. “I definitely feel like it doesn’t hurt,” he said.

If the bond and levy don’t pass, the parking lots wouldn’t get done and no new computers would be purchased soon. “The roof has to be done,” he said. “We’ll just have to figure out a way to finance that. We’ll just have to deal with older and slower computers that don’t always work when you want them to.”

The last bond the district passed was for $3.1 million in 1998. It paid for an addition to the high school that included four classrooms, a music room and a mechanical room.

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