Anchorage School District wants voters to say yes to bond package
The Anchorage School District is hoping the second time’s a charm when it comes to approving school bonds in the upcoming April election. Voters narrowly defeated the district’s bond package last year.
Mike Nero, the director of capital planning and construction for the district, said the $58.5 million bond proposal will pay for roof replacements at eight schools and new ventilation systems at three schools. Nero said the district has tried to put Band-Aids on serious maintenance projects for years while the facilities continue to age.
“The average roof expectancy is 20 to 25 years,” Nero explained. “We are at 28 and 29 on our roofing systems. Ventilation systems (are) 15 years, and we are pushing 20 years on these ventilation systems.”
At Rogers Park Elementary, the issue is hard to miss. A giant trash can sits in the hallway collecting water from a leaky roof. Principal Nuri Johnsen calls it an ongoing frustration.
“Our kids need an environment where they’re not walking around a trash can,” Johnsen said. “(Where) they don’t have a tarp hanging over them as they are trying to do their work on a computer and not worry about whether they are going to get dripped on. We definitely need a new roof.”
Willow Crest Elementary School also needs a new roof and a new ventilation system. Principal Kristina Peterson said classrooms can vary between 60 and 90 degrees, with little variation in between. She added that it’s hard to learn when students are always either too hot or too cold.
“You either have your coat on because it’s freezing or you are dying of the heat and can’t focus,” Peterson said.
Nero said the bond money will not only modernize schools, but also bring them up to code. He said seismic improvements are also part of the project.
The owner of a $300,000 house can expect to pay about $35 a year to pay for the bonds. Nero said that’s actually less than property owners were paying last year since the district has retired a lot of the bond debt it’s had in the past.
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