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Superintendent presents school bond proposal for April 2011

Revisions to earlier recommendation decreases total cost of potential bonds

Superintendent Carol Comeau is recommending two school bond propositions totaling $80.4 million be placed on the April 2011 municipal election ballot. The proposal is far below the $148 million in bond debt that the district has paid off since the last school bonds were approved in April 2008. The Anchorage School Board will hear testimony and vote on the 2011 proposal at its Monday night meeting.

The first proposition is $47.1 million for the renewal and an auditorium addition at Service High School. The proposal includes matching funds needed to secure a $21 million state grant necessary to complete the project. The $21 million grant would not be funded through property tax revenue. In addition, the superintendent recommends that $10 million of previously approved but unused bond funding be redirected to this project, effectively reducing the amount of new bonds to $37.1 million.

The second proposition is $33.3 million for upgrades to the district’s Career and Technical Education program, building life extension and design projects. This bond proposal includes $17 million in facility upgrades to support CTE programs at eight high schools, six middle schools, the King Career Center and Polaris K-12 School. Approximately $600,000 is designated for the design of CTE space on the West/Romig campus. Other design projects are to renovate Girdwood K-8 and Airport Heights, Gladys Wood and Inlet View elementary schools.

The majority of projects within the two bonds qualify for state debt reimbursement of 60-70 percent. The state currently pays approximately 52 percent of school bond debt, significantly easing the burden on taxpayers.

The administration closely reviewed recommendations from the district’s Capital Request Advisory Committee. That initial proposal included funding for turf fields at five schools, and additional design work for the Turnagain, West/Romig and Whaley school renewals. The superintendent chose to remove these projects from her bond recommendations because the turf fields have the opportunity for alternative funding sources and the district is not prepared to move forward with the additional school renewals at this time. The revisions to the CRAC recommendations reduce the total for the two proposed bonds by nearly $21 million.

“I sincerely thank the members of the Capital Request Advisory Committee for their serious attention to our greatest capital needs, but I feel I had to reduce their recommendations somewhat,” said Superintendent Comeau. “I recognize that some will be disappointed that their projects did not make the list but we must be cognizant of the state of the economy and what our community is willing to support at this time.”

Members of the community may sign up to testify on the superintendent’s recommendation at Monday’s Anchorage School Board meeting by e-mailing SchoolBoard@asdk12.org or by calling 742-4315. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. in the boardroom of the ASD Education Center, 5530 E. Northern Lights Blvd. A complete review of the 2011 bond recommendation is available in school board memo #161, www.asdk12.org/School_Board/archives/2010-2011/20101213/H02M161.pdf.

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