School board weighs bond proposal for earthquake recovery projects
At Tuesday night's school board meeting, Anchorage School District administrators presented the board with the latest school bond proposal for 2020.
ASD Chief Operating Officer Tom Roth said the administration is proposing an earthquake recovery and mitigation bond totaling over $79 million. The proposed bond will focus solely on recovery and educational improvements to over a dozen schools in the district that received significant damage from last year's earthquake.
More than half of the money proposed in the bond — just over $43 million — would go to help get Gruening Middle School back online and keep it that way.
"The price tag is high for Gruening but logistically, if we're going to invest in Gruening in the long term then now is the time to do that investment," said School Board Vice President Alisha Hilde.
Hilde said contractors will be in Gruening and Eagle River Elementary School soon.
"When I talk to contractors they're like 'do the work when we are in there; you are getting a better return on your dollar when we can do it all at once,'" Hilde said.
A decision was made to upgrade all of Gruening. Roth said most of the components within the school are original and were built in the mid-1980s, but tearing down and rebuilding the school would be an even higher cost.
"Boy, if there was a school that was in desperate need of paint, carpets, flooring, I mean, lighting, it's Gruening," Roth said.
School board members feel some of the bond money should go towards improving school security sooner rather than later.
Board member Elisa Vakalis worried about community sticker shock when looking at the amount of the bond. She said voters will need to factor in how the municipality will disperse the bond reimbursement Gov. Mike Dunleavy is sending back to taxpayers next year.
The board decided to take more time to discuss the bond proposition and hear from ad hoc committees as well as further discuss the amount of the bond to decide if any amendments should be added.
The board is expected to vote on the bond in mid-November.
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