Carolyn Wiley, KP News with Lisa Bryan and Ted Olinger
At its Jan. 4 meeting, the Peninsula School District board of directors unanimously agreed to seek voter approval of a $220 million capital facilities bond in the April 24 special election.
PSD Superintendent Rob Manahan said during the meeting that he regarded this bond issue as the first step in a 30-year plan designed to meet the current and future educational needs of the community.
The board approved the conceptual distribution of funds at its Jan. 11 meeting. The broad framework indicated that approximately 80 percent of the bond funds would be used to renovate and improve existing facilities, including student safety and access, fire protection, building and site security, and access for physically impaired people.
Board President Marcia Harris, who represents the Key Peninsula, said, “The board believes modernizations and upgrades will result in long-term savings by reducing the expense of crisis repairs and allow the district to be more proactive in maintaining and extending the life of district facilities.”
Approximately 20 percent of the total bond is earmarked for reduction of overcrowding at the elementary level by building a new school in Gig Harbor.
Manahan said, “It is not just about growth and about bringing our facilities up to 21st century standards. The purpose of education is to prepare kids for the future. A rich learning environment for both students and professional educators is essential. This bond will improve the immediate welfare, safety and comfort of students and staff and extend beyond the present, long into the future.”
In January 2017, PSD invited interested community members to participate in a facilities planning committee that met regularly for six months. Guiding principles for the citizen committee were to identify the requirements to maximize safety in all buildings and provide high-quality learning environments. The committee also explored costs associated with new construction versus modernization of existing facilities and noncapital options such as year-round school and double shift scheduling.
The committee examined the current condition and age of existing facilities, projected population growth in the district and the potential impact on local taxes.
“Additional community input was solicited through a series of mini community forums and online surveys,” Manahan said.
Committee recommendations were presented to the board Oct. 12, 2017. Recognizing that the committee had identified an extensive list of needs, the board prioritized a “wish list” by urgency, cost effectiveness, financial impact on local taxes and potential community support for a bond issue. Through several work sessions, the framework for a 30-year plan emerged that includes current and future needs.
Peninsula High School, Key Peninsula Middle School and Artondale Elementary are scheduled for major modernization and upgrades. Minter Creek Elementary, Discovery Elementary, Kopachuck Middle School and Gig Harbor High will reconfigure library spaces, science labs and theaters.
Manahan said he welcomes public comment and is interested in speaking to organizations in the community. He will be at Blend Wine Shop Mar. 1, address the KP Community Council Mar. 14, and visit the Longbranch Improvement Club Mar. 21 (see Community Calendar).
For more information, go to www.psd401.net/bond or contact Manahan directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 253-530-1002.
School bonds and levies differ in funding method and purpose. Municipal bonds are debt securities issued to bondholders. In other words, the bondholders are making a loan that is repaid over 10 or 20 years or more with interest. Bonds can only be used for construction, renovation and land purchases; they cannot be used to fund basic education. Levies pay for programs, materials, transportation and minor building improvements (such as carpets and paint), making up the difference between government funding and the true cost of operating a school district. Levies are typically collected over a two- to four-year period and must be renewed.[/box]
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