By Brian Lewis
Arlington Public Schools is asking for voter approval of bonds on the Nov. 6 ballot to construct and renovate school facilities and improve security. Here are the most important things the community needs to know when considering this proposal.
•Taxes: Passage of the bond would not cause local school property tax rates to increase beyond what the community is paying in 2018; district estimates of school tax rates show the rate declining significantly. Right now, APS levies $4.68 per $1,000 of assessed value; $3.31 of that is for the Educational Programs and Operations Levy and $1.37 for paying off voter-approved bonds from 2000 used to build Arlington High School. If the new bond is approved, the total local school levy is estimated to be $3.16 per $1,000. The EP&O levy rate decreases to $1.50 per $1,000 and the bond rate is $1.66 per $1,000. The decrease in the EP&O is due to the McCleary Supreme Court decision. All totaled, that represents a tax rate decrease of $1.52 per $1,000. The EP&O and bond rates are collected to pay a fixed amount so taxes don’t increase when assessed value increases. •Safety and security: Each school will receive a security package, consisting of a secured entry, door locks that can lock from the inside of the classroom (now teachers go in the hallway to lock doors, becoming exposed to threats), and interior and exterior security cameras that are networked so administrators could share views with first responders. These features better control access to instructional areas, help defend the school against threats, improve student discipline and deter crime on campus. The bond also funds a fire sprinkler system for Eagle Creek Elementary and replaces Post Middle School, which has no fire sprinkler system. Also, Post has no interior hallways; every classroom door opens to the outside. The campus is difficult to secure. •Preparing for the future: The largest project is replacement for Post and additions of eight classrooms and a Technology and Arts workshop at AHS. The new Post Middle School would be built next to the current one; students would move into the new school when construction is complete. The old school would be demolished and make the district eligible for $11.4 million in state matching funds. AHS is expecting up to 300 additional students by 2022, just from the students who are already enrolled in our elementary and middle schools. The additional classrooms and instructional spaces funded by the bond are important to meet the needs of students already here.
Election Day is Nov. 6. More information about the Arlington School Bond proposal is available on the district’s website at www.asd.wednet.edu/bond. You can also contact me at 360-618-6238 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brian Lewis is executive director of operations for Arlington Public Schools, which runs a monthly column in this newspaper.