An upcoming Franklin Pierce school bond proposal has something for residents of all ages: school building renovations, a preschool and community center, and a complex of ball fields.
If approved by voters in March, the $78.5 million proposal would promote community partnerships resulting in facilities that students would use during the day and community members could use before and after school.
Yet already some parents have expressed concerns about the bond’s inclusion of the planned Franklin Pierce Community Hope Center, arguing that any tax money should go to the classroom, said district spokesman Willie Painter. Once he explains that the school district will use the majority of the $13.2 million building for instruction, “they’re OK with it,” he said.
“We see this community center as not only a good model to serve our kids before, during and after school,” he said, “but also to support the families and community so they can in turn better support our kids.”
Though community members approved a levy for computers and other technology in 2006, this would be the district’s first construction bond attempt since its successful $25.5 million bond in 1998.
District officials estimate the 20-year bond would cost 73 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation in its first year, 2009. For the owner of a $200,000 house, that would amount to $146 annually.
Under the bond proposal approved by School Board members last week, the district would spend the bulk of the measure – $45.4 million – on renovations or improvements at each of the district’s 12 elementary, middle and high schools and the Gates alternative school site.
Though enrollment remains stable in the Parkland/Summit/Midland-area district, several schools are overcrowded. In fall 2006, for instance, the district estimated Ford Middle School was over capacity by 217 students, Keithley Middle School by 117 students and Franklin Pierce High School by 320 students.
The bond would add auxiliary gyms to both of the middle schools and remodel commons areas at the middle schools and at Franklin Pierce High.
The project list also includes $2.2 million to replace at least one of the 1960s-era modular buildings that house the district’s 40 administrative employees.
During a heavy rain last year, the ceiling collapsed on an administrator’s desk, filling the office with 11/2 inches of water, Painter said.
Several projects also would serve the wider community and take advantage of a private fundraising effort.
A $9.5 million sports complex including tennis courts and at least five baseball and soccer fields near Washington High would be used mainly by district students for class and competition. At other times, neighboring Pacific Lutheran University and the public could use the facilities.
Meanwhile, the biggest bond project earmarks $13.2 million to build the Franklin Pierce Community Hope Center, part of an effort spearheaded by the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound to build youth and community “Hope Centers” throughout Pierce County.
The 30,000-square-foot building would rise on district land where Washington High’s tennis courts now sit, adjacent to the Keithley campus. The district would use most of the center during the day for its large preschool and for other instruction.
The Boys & Girls Clubs would contribute $1.5 million in capital costs and another $1.5 million to support center staff and operations, said club president and CEO Rick Guild. The club would use part of the building before and after school for activity programs targeted largely at nearby Keithley and Washington students.
A small portion of the center could be used as community meeting rooms and office spaces for nonprofit agencies, Painter said.
“Franklin Pierce has taken a real innovative approach for a school district,” Guild said. “To take on that kind of project for the community is phenomenal.”
The idea for the Franklin Pierce center grew out of meetings the past two years of the “Mid-County Leadership Group,” a collection of leaders from schools, Pacific Lutheran University, community agencies and private business working to bring more services to the Bethel and Franklin Pierce school regions, Guild said. The group is seeking a separate site for the Bethel area.
The bond also would support a separate community effort to raise funds for a 25,000-square-foot, 600-seat performing arts and community center on district property across the street from Franklin Pierce High School, which has no auditorium.
The district bond would contribute $1 million to furnish and equip the two-story building, which would include a computer lab, classrooms and a cafe.
The Fusion Educational Youth Foundation would own the $9.4 million center, with the intent of letting the high school and other groups use it for instruction and performances. The group plans to build the center even if the bond fails, foundation President Dave Naron said.
Debby Abe: 253-597-8694
Here are highlights from the Franklin Pierce School District’s March 11 bond measure seeking $78.5 million.
All schools: Upgrades to heating-ventilation systems, new furniture or other improvements.
Ford Middle School: Add auxiliary gym and seven classrooms, remodel commons area and science rooms. $10.7 million.
Keithley Middle School: Add classrooms and auxiliary gym, remodel commons. $9.6 million.
Franklin Pierce High School: Remodel commons, entry and science rooms, add classrooms. $6 million.
Washington High School: Add classrooms and science rooms. $3.3 million.
Franklin Pierce Community Hope Center: $13.2 million.
Administration building: Replace one or two buildings. Repair parking lot. $2.7 million.
Athletic complex: Add four baseball/softball fields, five tennis courts, football/soccer field, dugouts, bleachers, concessions, restrooms and parking lot. $9.5 million.
To read more details about the proposal, see district administrators’ presentation on the bond at www.thenewstribune.com. LEARN MORE
What: Parkland Community Association forum on Franklin Pierce school bond proposal
When: 6:45 tonight
Where: Parkland Fire Station, 114th and A streets