School board approves bond package for 2022 election totaling $111M in critical infrastructure improvements

Prop. 1 set to appear on municipal election ballot in April
Channel 2 Morning Edition (6 a.m.)
Published: Nov. 18, 2021 at 9:49 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Following hours of public testimony and deliberation, the Anchorage School Board settled on a school bond package for the 2022 municipal election, with the final tally sitting at more than $111 million for school improvements, remodels and even replacements.

The vote this Wednesday of 6-1 in favor of the bond, as amended, pushes it on to the ballot for the spring in the form of Proposition 1.

Board member Dave Donley, while expressing support of improving schools, was the only member to vote against the bond as it is currently written.

“I support the vast majority of the projects on this bond package,” he said, expressing particular worry over the newest version of the bond package having a higher price tag than bonds being retired, the latter of which totals about $100 million. “I remain concerned about Inlet View and a total tear-down and rebuild of the school. And, I point out that the difference in cost of doing a new school at Inlet View and doing a major remodel — to fix all the problems there — the difference is about $10 million, which is just about enough to make this new total of $111 million for this bond down below the amount of bonds we retired.”

Inlet View Elementary School and the desire for changes there was one of the dominating topics of public testimony across the board’s two meetings this week.

“I understand the higher we go, the less chances of passing,” board member Andy Holleman said ahead of the vote. “I do believe we’re in an atmosphere where money is as cheap as it’s going to be for a long, long time. I’m willing to push it a little bit.

“We’re all going to have a different comfort level,” he continued. “I’m not sure exactly where that’s going to be at.”

Despite it not being a unanimous decision, the bond is set for the ballot with the several amendments made, and subsequent support of Anchorage School Board President Margo Bellamy, and five other members.

Included in the general features of the bond are district-wide roof replacement and improvements; full replacement of Inlet View Elementary School; security upgrades of various kinds for varying locations; deferred requirements and building life extension; and other safety advancements and planning and design projects.

Several members did have other requests tied to the bond, however. Board member Carl Jacobs, for example, was among those who asked for a specific meeting as the election gets closer.

“If we could have the building design committee meeting on the calendar for board members to attend if we so choose, just to understand how it’s going,” he said, “I think would be great.”

If passed, the proposed and precise price tag for the bond sits at $111,090,000, which was raised from an initial amount below $100 million through the addition of the Inlet View replacement and a roof project for Chugiak Elementary School, along with the removal of a roof replacement for Spring Hill Elementary School.

The school board, in documents shared via its online portal, summarizes the proposition’s allocations as follows: $30,967,000 for Inlet View Elementary School replacement construction; $6,073,000 for Bettye Davis East Anchorage High School academic area safety improvements; $32,741,000 for roof projects, ranging from repairs to replacements, for Chinook, Campbell, College Gate, Ursa Minor, and any other 1990 prototypical elementary schools, as well as the district’s maintenance building; $9,557,000 for deferred requirements, such as Kincaid Elementary site improvements and replacing the boiler at Birchwood Elementary; $12,942,000 for Lake Otis Elementary “building life extension”; $16,030,000 for prioritized security vestibule and other improvements; and $2,780,000 for the planning and design of 2024 deferred requirements projects.

As for the cost to taxpayers who own property within the municipality, board documents show the approximate amount of taxes on every $100,000 of assessed local property annually – in order to retire this proposed debt of $111,090 million – is $24.73. That calculation, according to those same documents, is of estimated taxes is based on 4.5% weighted interest over 20 years.

Read the full breakdown of the estimated monetary requirement of taxpayers — should the bond be passed by Anchorage voters — on the school board’s website.

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