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Getting the word out - Arlington schools explain what $50 million in bond money could do for its facilities

From left, Peggy and Phil James were among the approximately dozen Arlington School District citizens who attended the Arlington Public Schools Facility Advisory Committees first public presentation of their proposed bond measure Feb. 15, in the Post Middle School commons, where ASD Superintendent Linda Byrnes answered questions about issues including the potential costs to taxpayers of such a project. -
From left, Peggy and Phil James were among the approximately dozen Arlington School District citizens who attended the Arlington Public Schools Facility Advisory Committees first public presentation of their proposed bond measure Feb. 15, in the Post Middle School commons, where ASD Superintendent Linda Byrnes answered questions about issues including the potential costs to taxpayers of such a project.
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ARLINGTON Not many community members showed up to provide input at the first community meeting Feb. 7 on the Arlington School Districts proposed bond.
Presented by the Arlington Public Schools Facilities Advisory Committee, this first public presentation on the districts proposed bond measure only attracted about a dozen people and most were representatives of the district. However, Superintendent Linda Byrnes pointed out that citizens will have several more opportunities to contribute their input in the coming months.
The meeting started with Facilities Advisory Committee Chair Mixie Deeter thanking past and present committee members, including representatives of the community and the school district, for their contributions to the proposed bond. She explained that they had arrived upon this proposal by examining the districts existing resources, evaluating its current and future needs, and prioritizing possible projects with input from the community and the district.
Deeter said the bonds estimated $50 million price tag comes from the committees diagnoses of the districts needs, including:
$23 million remodel of Post Middle School.
$11 million to add and replace classrooms at the new Arlington High School, Haller Middle School and Trafton Elementary School.
$16 million for facilities preservation and safety.
Under this bond, Post would be modernized with additional science labs, covered outdoor walkways and new locker bays, a rebuilt and expanded track, seismic upgrades, and a redesigned student commons, kitchen, counseling area and office. Temporary portables will be needed during the construction period at the middle school and at AHS, which would receive 12 additional classrooms, with extended utilities and services, as well as an upgraded bus area to ensure safety.
Haller would receive eight additional classrooms, with extended utilities and services, as well as track and field improvements at the stadium and a replaced gymnasium roof with a new sloped structure.
Trafton would get a multi-purpose room, while replacing its portables with classrooms, along with a new library and media center.
Eagle Creek Elementary School and the Stillaguamish Valley School would each get new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system upgrades, new carpets and equipment, and a redesigned traffic flow for safety.
At Pioneer Elementary School the baseball field needs drainage upgrades.
Kent Prairie Elementary School would also receive playfield upgrades and a redesigned traffic flow for safety.
At Presidents Elementary School, food service staging and storage needs upgrading
Both the districts transportation building and the old high school A building need new roofs.
After Deeter presented a slideshow that included images of the overcrowding of students in the AHS commons, the buckets used to catch leaks from the Haller gym roof, and the congested traffic that occurs in the Eagle Creek and SVS pick-up area, Byrnes stepped up to answer audience questions.
Byrnes presented a possible timeline of all the work and reiterated that the earliest possible time that the proposed bond could go on the ballot would be February of next year.
While there are no architectural plans in place for the proposed additions at Haller, architects have already worked up a preliminary design for Traftons proposed facilities improvements.
AHS was built from the beginning to accommodate the additional classrooms that this project would call for, Byrnes said.
The proposed addition of science labs at Post would bring it into line with changes to the middle school science curriculum, since seventh- and eighth-grade science requirements have been changed from one semester to a full school year.
The project could also aid in equalizing the student populations at Post and Haller, to approximately 800-plus each, Byrnes said.
Byrnes echoed Deeters emphasis on the expense of the current traffic flows at AHS, Eagle Creek and SVS, estimating that two to three police officers are required to conduct traffic at the high school alone. However, she acknowledged that the geography of those properties had left them with limited design options.
Because this proposal has yet to be officially reviewed by the ASD Board of Directors, Byrnes could only offer a relatively broad range of the bonds potential costs to the districts taxpayers.
If the proposed $50 million bond is rolled into the current debt remaining from the $54 million bond that was passed in 2000, homeowners could pay as much as $1.20 per $1,000 in assessed valuation, but if its added onto a more extended schedule, it could cost homeowners less than 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation.
Byrne said the school board wont make a decision about this proposed bond measure until November.
It will be presented repeatedly between now and then, for input from the community.

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