Following the failure of the Puyallup School District’s $279.6 million bond measure, the district’s board of directors at their Feb. 25 meeting took a hard look at what the future may hold.
An assessment of what the district faces, painted by Rudy Fyles, director of facilities, was a not a rosy picture.
“The sky is not falling,” Fyles assured the directors.
But Fyles then said that the negative effects won’t be truly apparent until further down the road.
Immediate effects will include continued capacity challenges at schools district-wide and a failure to meet cutting edge technology standards.
Only 250 classrooms in the district are equipped with the district’s 2004 technology standard. Fyles said that the failure of the school bond will leave 1,000 classrooms without the benefit of a technology suite and that those built to standard will now age with no replacement equipment in sight.
As for capacity, Fyles said the district holds the dubious distinction of having the most portables of any school district in the state.
“While we have more portables than any other district, we don’t have room for more,” Fyles said.
Because of strain on fields and schools, Fyles recommended that the district overtime should curtail public use of school fields and facilities. Instead, he said, the district should be more school focused in its use of fields and facilities. Over the next 12 years, Fyles said the district will be in need of $40 million in capital renewal projects.
“This will have a negative maintenance impact,” he said.
And with the failure of the bond, Fyles warned that the district will incur a missed opportunity to take advantage of low interest rates and affordable construction costs. Fyles said the number of contractors available are anticipated to go down with the downward economy and supply and demand will raise future construction costs.
Chris Ihrig, president of the district board of directors, said the failure of the bond was disappointing.
“It represents a statement on our community and our kids,” Ihrig said.
Ihrig added that when the district talks about supporting kids, he said he believed the bond addressed three things: overcrowding and capacity challenges in the schools; the technology inequity across the district; and the safety concerns of older buildings.
“I don’t know how the board will vote to put the bond back on the ballot but it’s a very urgent situation,” Ihrig said. “It’s time to rally around our kids and step up to the plate.”
A full story on the board of director's Feb. 25 meeting regarding the school bond failure will appear in the March 6 print edition of the Herald.
Reporter Andrew Fickes can be reached at 253-552-7001 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @herald_andrew.