October 16, 2012 @ 11:01 am
Tacoma School Board is considering placing a $500 million bond measure before voters next February for renovations or replacements for 14 schools. The board discussed this during its Feb. 11 meeting. Members want feedback from the public on the issue and have scheduled a forum on the topic at 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 18. It will take place at district headquarters. They plan to decide whether to forward the bond to voters on Oct. 25. Among the projects included in the bond measure: A permanent home for Science and Math Institute. It has operated in portable buildings since it opened at Point Defiance Park in 2009. Modernization of Wilson High School, which opened in 1958. The first phase of this project was completed in 2007. McCarver Elementary School on Hilltop and Stewart Middle School in the South End would undergo modernizations. The following elementary schools would be replaced: Arlington, Mary Lyon, Grant, Wainwright, Downing, Browns Point, Birney and Boze. Hunt Middle School would also be replaced. The last bond measure approved by district voters was in 2001. A levy passed in 2010 included money for a $28 million modernization of Washington/Hoyt Elementary School in Proctor District. Officials say economic conditions will allow them to refinance part of their current long-term debt for a savings of $9.8 million. If approved, the bond measure would let them utilize a new rate estimated at 1.98 percent, compared to the current rate of 4.98 percent. The cost to the owner of a home valued at $140,000 would pay $1,103 in property taxes to the district next year, a figure that would rise to $1,140 by 2020. Last year the board decided to close Wainwright, which is in Fircrest, due to declining enrollment. Demographers who provide data to the district report the number of young children in Fircrest will increase in recent years. Several board members noted that when new schools open, they often draw students from outside the surrounding neighborhood, which affects demographic projections. The replacement and modernization projects are expected to take 10 years to complete, if voters approve the bond.
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