School board hears differing opinions at bond proposal public testimony
The Anchorage School Board is weighing all of its options as it tries to decide on what to include in its proposed 2020 bond which will make its way to voters next April.
"We had two scenarios," School Board President Starr Marsett said. "One was just earthquake repairs and one was earthquake repairs and a design for Inlet View [Elementary School]."
The Anchorage School District is weighing the options whether to tear down and rebuild the school or simply spend money on repairs.
Aquarian Charter School is also asking for repairs to their school. The unique circumstance with Aquarian is that the charter school is in an ASD facility. The relationship between the two is like that of a tenant and landlord.
"We've got some schools out there that even rank higher than Aquarian and Inlet View, I believe, as far as maintenance," Marsett said. "We've got Dave Donley I think that's going to bring in some safety and security that he thinks we should be doing so, you know, it's going to be, tune in, because I have no idea, you know, what's going to happen."
ASD is introducing a new plan to taxpayers when it comes to school bonds. Instead of having voters decide each year on bonds, ASD plans to alternate years.
"This will be a larger amount bond in what the district would typically bond for in a year to year basis," ASD Chief Operating Officer Tom Roth said. "This bond is just below $80 million. With the understanding, the recommendation is subject to board approval, that the district would not bond in 2021."
While the bond seems larger at first glance, Roth says it will actually save taxpayers money.
"$80 million over a period of over two years, again simple math, you're looking at about $40 million per year," Roth said. "Which is actually less then what the district historically has bonded for on a year to year basis."
ASD typically bonds for anywhere between $50 and $55 million and just this past spring voters approved a $65 million dollar bond. With a high amount and the promise of the next bond proposal not coming until 2022, board members, school officials and parents are pushing now to get their needs met.
"There will be a lot of conversation on what board members feel we should be doing and, you know, bringing us together as a group to be able to vote on that," Marsett said.
Lisa Chelmo, an art teacher at Aquarian, said the school needs major repairs.
"This building has served our program well for 18 years, but right now it's clear that no amount of love, patches and general maintenance is enough," she said.
John Fonstad, whose child attends Inlet View Elementary, told the board that work on the school is overdue.
"The building is 60 years old and has had no major renovations since the library was added in the 1980s," Fonstad said. "It's scary to think my kid is going to school with no fire sprinklers."
The school board expects a few amendments to the bond proposal and won't vote on it until the next meeting on Nov. 19.
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