After voting in December to place a bond measure on the April 24 ballot, the Peninsula School District’s board of directors chose last week to set the bond amount at $220 million to cover maintenance and new construction costs.
The meeting also included discussion about how to spend the money and the board decided to pursue building a new elementary school in the district to deal with issues of growth and overcrowding.
The Peninsula School District needs about $400 million for repairs, updates and more. A little more than $95 million of those estimated costs would go toward preventative maintenance, which includes:
▪ Upgrades to interior and exterior finishes
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▪ Health, safety and security upgrades
▪ Mechanical and electrical improvements
▪ Upgrades in technology and infrastructure
▪ Provide improvements that comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act
▪ Expanding cafeteria and commons areas
▪ Site improvements such as fire suppression measures
▪ New roofs, paint and HVAC systems
In a separate interview with The Peninsula Gateway, Superintendent Robert Manahan said the board chose to go with a smaller bond amount rather than the full $400 million because it believed it would be received better by voters.
“We have $400 million of work that needs to be done,” Manahan said. “We will use the $220 million but we are planning for inflation. A lot of it is about the community response and what they can afford. We don’t want to out-cost our community’s resources. We are trying to be sensitive to that.”
The Jan. 4 public meeting was a round-table session with only a select few school district employees and parents in attendance. The meeting included extensive discussion about what the bond money would be used for and how much each school will see over the next 30 years.
There’s a lot of work that needs to be done and it’ll take 30 years for us to really get caught up. Then the cycle starts all over again.
Superintendent Rob Manahan
At the beginning of the meeting, Manahan asked board members if they had a general idea of what they would like the bond amount to be.
“It’s been about a year where the facilities planning committee has looked at the district’s condition, capacity and growth, and the impact all the factors have on our facilities. ” Manahan said. “I don’t know if we have a final number we would like to present our community.”
Board member David Olson wanted to know why the district has yet to bring a financial advisor to the board to talk about the structure of the bond to see what type of interest rates were available and how long it would take for the bond to be paid off before selecting a general bond amount.
Olson said he went and held discussions with the community and he was told that more voters would support a rate of an added 30 cents per $100,000 taxable value of a home.
THE PROJECT LIST
After voting to set the bond amount, the board worked the rest of the evening on creating a wish list of projects that would be set in detail on the capital ballot measure for voters.
Manahan told The Gateway that the board has decided to make a priority list, or what he calls a “tier one” list of projects that must be completed before any other construction projects or upgrades are met.
“This is really our phase one of that 30-year picture we created,” he said. “Hopefully, later down the road we will get to phase two and phase three, if the community chooses to support those as well. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done and it’ll take 30 years for us to really get caught up. Then the cycle starts all over again.”
The project list includes:
▪ Schools that require major modernization, which could include updating utilities, adding modern technology and possibly adding new facilities such as new classrooms and common areas, are Artondale Elementary and Peninsula High School.
▪ A new elementary school to be built to ease overcrowding in the district.
▪ Key Peninsula Middle School will need moderate modernization, which could include adding more technology but it will be less likely any new facilities will be built.
▪ Every school will receive facility and maintenance upgrades which may include technology, field and site work, making sure all buildings are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, making sure the fire sprinkler systems are up to code and fixing HVAC systems.
▪ Discovery Elementary, Minter Creek Elementary, Kopachuck Middle School and Gig Harbor High School need upgrades to classrooms, such a new equipment.
▪ Transportation needs to be replaced. The board is hoping to receive state matching dollars.
The caveat to the working project list is that the board has yet to find out how the district will split the $220 million of bond money to cover each high-priority project. So far the list is just a rough draft of wants.
The board will meet again during its regular public meeting on Thursday (Jan. 11) to discuss how much each project on the “tier-one” list will cost and which projects will be placed on the ballot.