ARLINGTON – The Arlington School Board unanimously passed a resolution on Monday authorizing a $107.5 million bond measure to be placed on the Feb. 13 special election ballot.
If voters approve the ballot measure, funds would be used to build and renovate school facilities, and improve security across all the district’s schools.
“This is a great time for us to do this,” said Brian Lewis, district executive director of operations. “The opportunity is here to address these building needs without increasing taxes from the 2017 total tax rate.”
He said 2000 bonds will be paid off in 2020, interest rates are near historic lows, and the district has a diversified list of building and facility needs.
The package includes replacing Post Middle School, adding an eight-classroom wing and technology and arts workshop to Arlington High School along with field improvements, security and environmental control improvements at all schools, classroom audio upgrades at all the elementary schools and other enhancements.
The proposal is based on recommendations from a 27-member facilities advisory committee that spent over a year reviewing the conditions that buildings are in and classroom space needs within the growing district.
The tax rate between bonds and operation levies should drop from $4.93 per $1,000 of assessed valuation in 2017 to $3.76 per $1,000 in 2019 if the bond passes next year.
With the current tax rate, district homeowners are paying $1.42 per $1,000. With bond passage, that total would go to $2.26 in 2019 and 2020, the overlap years between the two bonds – but would then drop to $1.64 and stay constant over the term of the bond.
Taking into account the total tax rate that includes the current M & O levy, bond and state property tax increase, homeowners now paying $6.96 per $1,000 assessed value would see that number rise to $7.50 next year, then drop to $6.61 in 2019. Then, with existing bond debt paid off, the tax rate would drop even more to $5.90.
Now schools officials and members of the Citizens for Arlington Public Schools have 12 weeks to take their message to community groups and individuals, and share how the bond proposal would benefit families, the district and tax base.
Kimberly Meno, a member of Citizens for Arlington Public Schools, said that voters as concerned parents, grandparents and neighbors of children attending local schools should get behind the bond.
“Our schools need to be ready,” Meno said. “They need to be safe, they need to be secure, they need to educate our children today for tomorrow, and they need to be ready for tomorrow for the kids who will be coming into the school system.”
The bond proposal was originally presented to the school board on Oct. 9, and a public workshop held on Nov. 2 for a follow-up review of projects and other components of the resolution and bond package.