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School bond proposal includes Airport Heights renovation

By Alexis Fernandez 7:52 AM March 31, 2014
ANCHORAGE –

The Anchorage municipal election is Tuesday: On the ballot will be several bonds, including one that would improve 19 schools across the Anchorage School District.

It comes with a $57 million price tag.

- $5.9 million to design projects at four schools

- Nearly $29 million to renewal and building projects at 17 schools

- $22.8 million to renovate Airport Heights Elementary School.

Like some of the books in its library, Airport Heights Elementary School is aging and the wear and tear is slowly taking its toll on the building

That’s not to mention the lack of space to house the school’s 300 students. The sprinkler room is now a part-time library and testing room.

Principal Michael Webb, who’s been with the school for nearly eight years, said he’s making the most of what they have. It’s common to see hallways used as storage areas — or even classrooms — and Webb said the building is 54 years old and was last updated in 1987.

He said his biggest wish is to have a place where students can eat their lunch. The gym currently serves as a cafeteria.

“We eat lunch in our classrooms,” he said.

That wish could soon come true.

Airport Heights is one of 19 schools slated for improvement if voters approve a $57 million dollar bond package on April 1.

“We’ve waited 40, 50 years for this and we’re not asking for something just because,” he said. “We just want a functional school that’s going to be up to standards with the rest of the schools in the city and the state of Alaska, and offer our kids the same opportunities that other kids have.”

The $23 million proposed in the bond measure would give the school a major facelift, adding 15,000 square feet to the 40,000-square-foot building.

That means four new classrooms, a multipurpose room, a new library and a bus drop-off area. It would also fix some of the heating and plumbing issues.

“We know that we’re leaking a lot dollars out the windows and walls of the building,” Webb said.

Webb said these improvements would give the building life for the next 40 years.

“A new school is going to a go long way to give us some space and some amenities that are going to help us do a better job with these kids, and that’s what we’re thrilled about,” he said.

The school’s new chapter is now left in the hands of Anchorage voters.

If passed April 1, the bond would cost the average Anchorage homeowner about $15 per year.

The state is expected to pick up two-thirds of the cost.

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