Arlington School Board approves 2nd try for schools bond

ARLINGTON – A school construction and district-wide safety improvements bond is going back to voters for a second try.

The Arlington School Board voted 3-1 on Monday to put the $107.5 million measure on the Nov. 6 general election ballot.

Board members Jeff Huleatt, Jim Weiss and Marc Rosson were in favor of the November date; Kay Duskin preferred holding off until February based around constituent remarks. Board member Judy Fay was not present after a pre-arranged absence.

The same bond to build and renovate school facilities and improve security failed to garner the required 60 percent supermajority for passage in February, receiving 55.06 percent “yes” votes.

The new bond would replace an existing one the district will pay off in 2019.

Taxpayers will pay $1.37 per $1,000 assessed property value toward Arlington school bonds in 2020. With the old bond paid off and if the new one is approved, that rate would be $1.34 per $1,000 in 2021, Lewis said.

The Board held a special meeting Monday to consider election dates and bond amounts. The district’s 27-member facilities advisory committee presented two key recommendations: the $107.5 million proposal, or a scaled-down $96 million measure that removed projects such as AHS site and athletic improvements, asphalt replacement, classroom audio, transportation improvements and other features. The committee provided scenarios for the November ballot or February 2019.

Surveys and focus groups conducted in April and May revealed themes that could help the district better inform voters about the bond.

At the top of the list were do a better job reminding taxpayers that the bond will not result in a tax rate increase, and educating them on why the district needs to build a new Post Middle School instead of modernize.

The total school levy rate will actually decline, said Lewis, from $4.68 per $1,000 assessed property value in 2018 to $3.28 per $1,000 next year, then remain at that level for the next 20 years.

The lion’s share of bond funding would replace the aging Post Middle School, which requires significant safety, security and building upgrades, and a new wing and technology and arts workshop at Arlington High School. The bond also includes field improvements, security and environmental control improvements at all schools, classroom audio upgrades at all elementary schools, and other enhancements.

The $107.5 million will enable the district to tap state matching funds to purchase land for a fifth elementary school, Lewis said.

The Board will need to pass a resolution by July 9 to get the bond on the November ballot.

The concern is too much space and time between elections, and we want to make sure people know that is a priority for the district.”

We don’t want to take too much time before we go back with another proposal

other issue is money. Longer we wait, the higher the costs get for completing the projects. Feb. adds another 2 million to project costs, bid cycle and pushes back Post by a year.

“Time and money were involved in the decision,”

What are a couple key messages that you want to convey to voters this time around?

The biggest one is that this won’t result in a tax rate increase.

All projects were part will be continuin over and we still consider them a priority.

The 27-member facilities advisory committee has worked since Feb. 13.

Focus groups – Brian Lewis, executive director of Operations.

District officials took a …. approach to …. They hosted small focus groups, surveyed residents

People can call us if they have questions. Last campaign. Lot of discussion on social media. A lot being batted back and forth. More than happy to talk.

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