Anchorage School District Superintendent Carol Comeau shared with business and community leaders on March 2 details on three school bond propositions before Anchorage voters in April.
Propositions 2 and 3 include projects that would be completed at Chugiak and Eagle River schools. Proposition 1, the costliest of the three at a little more than $37 million, completes a renovation at Service High School in South Anchorage.
"We believe the projects before you are the ones the school board has decided need the most attention," Comeau said, pointing out that the board took a "bond holiday" during the last election cycle, opting out of asking voters for project money.
Proposition 2 totals $16.8 million, 60 to 70 percent of which the state has approved reimbursement for, Comeau said. It is a maintenance and upgrade bond that would allow the district to replace roofs, upgrade lighting and improve safety features at some schools, as well as upgrade relocatable classrooms districtwide.
Mirror Lake Middle School would benefit from Prop 2, with a new $500,000 fire alarm system, to replace one that was originally installed in 1996. Chugiak High would get $2 million worth of roof replacement in 55,000 square feet of leaking sections. That roof has not been replaced since 1988, according to the district's interactive map of the schools and projects. Chugiak's tennis courts also would get repaved and painted in some of the sections that are crumbling and faded. That project is estimated at $350,000.
Eagle River Elementary School's aging and failing lighting system would be replaced with a $1.1 million system that uses high-efficiency bulbs with fixtures meant to last 25 to 48 years, according to district estimates.
In Bond Proposition 3, worth $17 million, Chugiak High's ski storage room would be converted to a Career, Technical and Vocational space, paired with a new dust and ventilation system, all for $1.36 million. Eagle River High would also receive a location for vocational-technical training, although it requires just a $75,000 classroom modification project.
Both are sorely needed in the community, said school board president John Steiner, a longtime advocate of bringing more vocational educational training to schools across the district.
"One of the problems with our graduation rates is our programs are not meeting a certain set of our students," he said. "Being able to get more of this (type of program) into area schools across the district is important" but especially so in Chugiak-Eagle River, he added, because it means students don't have to drive into Anchorage's King Career Center for similar training and can stay in their own schools instead.
Like Prop 2, Comeau said, up to 70 percent of Prop 3's costs would be covered by the state. She estimated the cost per $100,000 on each of the bonds at $5.19 for Prop 1, $1.52 for Prop 2 and $1.30 for Prop 3.
"We believe these are a good investment," she said, pointing out that if all three passed, the debt collection per $100,000 would be just over $8.
Steiner said propositions 1 and 2 in particular represent needed maintenance that should not be delayed.
"If we don't pass them now the amounts become greater," he said.
The bond propositions will be on the April 5 election ballot. Details on the specifics of each bond and which schools will benefit can be found at asdk12.org/Bonds.
This article published in The Alaska Star on Thursday, March 10, 2011.