Arlington’s $107.5 million school construction bond in voters’ hands

ARLINGTON – Arlington district voters will decide the fate of a $107.5 million schools construction bond in a Feb. 13 special election.

If voters approve the ballot measure, funds would be used to build and renovate school facilities, and improve security across all of the district’s schools.

The package includes replacing Post Middle School, a new wing and technology and arts workshop to Arlington High School along with field improvements, security and environmental control improvements at all schools, classroom audio upgrades at all the elementary schools, and other enhancements.

Replacement of Post represents the largest project in the Arlington Public Schools’ proposal, at a cost of $72.2 million. The circa-1981 school doesn’t meet earthquake and fire safety standards. A recent walking tour of the school led by executive director of operations Brian Lewis pointed out bathrooms not accessible for wheelchair users, asbestos-laden floor tiles loosened or warped in heavily-walked areas, classrooms with only one window and overhangs along walkways between buildings that kept natural light out of rooms, and inadequate locks on doors. Small printing rooms at the center of the four-classroom buildings housed a nest of IT wires and cables to meet technology needs, and old heat pump systems are still actually located inside closets in some classrooms to serve the host building.

The four buildings don’t have the room to incorporate STEM and art classes, either.

In addition to the Post replacement, the school improvements include:

* An eight classrooms expansion wing, arts and technology workshop and bus shelter at Arlington High School,

* Install secure entry systems, improved door locks and security cameras at all schools

* Add a fire suppression system at Eagle Creek Elementary,

* Classroom amplification systems at all elementary schools to turn up the volume on teaching

* Improve heating, ventilation and air conditioning at all schools for better indoor air quality and energy efficiency, and

* Replace flooring at Eagle Creek and Kent Prairie Elementary schools.

Lewis said the time is right to address building needs when existing building bonds have almost matured, interest rates are near historic lows, and building and renovations are only going to get more costly in the future as facilities age.

The bond proposal will not cause local school property taxes to rise beyond what taxpayers are paying in 2018. Local school tax rates in 2017 were $4.93 per $1,000 of assessed value. If the bond is approved, taxes would begin in 2019 with a local schools tax rate of $3.74 per $1,000, dropping to $3.12 per $1,000 in 2021 through 2039.

•Taxes: Passage of the bond proposal would not cause local school property tax rates to increase beyond what the community is paying in 2018; in fact, district estimates of school tax rates show the rate declining significantly. The combined local and school state property tax rate in 2018 is $7.48 per $1,000 of assessed value.

Arlington High School expects 362 additional students by 2022, just from the students who are already enrolled in our elementary and middle school buildings. The additional classrooms and instructional spaces funded by the bond are important to meet the needs of students already enrolled.

More immediately, a run on new homes and apartment units completed or under construction in the new year will add 389 housing units and a projected 400 students to local schools, most notably Kent Prairie, Eagle Creek and Presidents elementaries, and Post and Haller middle schools.

Ballots were mailed out Jan. 25. The bond measure requires a 60 percent “yes” vote.

For more details about the bond proposal, visit http://asd.wednet.edu/bond.

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