School bond approved

Posted: Wednesday, October 04, 2000

Kenai Peninsula voters approved a bond for school repairs by a 70-percent-to-30-percent margin Tuesday.

The "yes" vote will allow the borough to partner with the state to fund a smorgasbord of major school maintenance projects, most of which are roof repairs.

"I am going to remain cautiously optimistic until I see final results," said Dave Spence, director of planning and operations for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District.

"I think it's a great opportunity to make some long overdue improvements. I'm excited."

The total price tag for the bond will be $7.4 million. The state will pay 70 percent of the tab and the borough will pick up the rest -- coincidentally, the same ratio as the vote margin.

Borough Finance Director Jeff Sinz has said that the bond will not change tax rates, because older bonds are due to expire and lower the rate property owners pay.

The bond also avoids potential complications that could arise in future years if Alaska voters approve the statewide tax cap initiative in November.

Sinz noted that a tax cap could hamper future efforts to bond for school projects, but those included in Proposition 1 would be grandfathered in.

The last time peninsula voters approved a school bond was in 1995 for West Homer Elementary.

The projects on the new bond's list already had been approved by the school board, borough assembly and the Alaska Department of Education and Early Develop-ment. Voter approval was needed to proceed with the funding.

The projects the bond will fund are:

n Reroofing, costing a total of about $4.8 million, for Kenai and Soldotna Middle schools, Nikiski, Paul Banks, Redoubt, Soldotna, Sterling and Tustumena Elementary schools, and Moose Pass and Susan B. English schools;

n New insulation, costing about $550,000, for Kenai Central High School;

n Bleacher replacements districtwide, costing about $260,000;

n Boiler replacements, costing about $280,000, at Soldotna High and Redoubt Elementary schools; and

n Expansion of the gymnasium-multipurpose room at Nikolaevsk School, which is operating at 48 percent above capacity, from half-size to regular size, at a cost of about $1.5 million.

The repairs are scheduled to take place over the next several years, Spence said.

He praised the cooperation between the borough and the school district to move forward on the work and expressed gratitude that the Alaska Legislature appropriated money to make the bond feasible.

Spence also praised peninsula voters for backing the bond proposition even though there was no concerted campaign on its behalf.

"I think the public has been aware of the lack of funding the schools have had for 10 years or longer. People are aware of the problems," he said.

"I think our voters here are pretty well informed and have acted accordingly."

Now the borough maintenance department and school district administrators will move ahead with the projects.

"We are going to get busy. This is going to give everybody lots to do," Spence said. "I'm real eager to get started."

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