School bonds costing $37M for security, structure repairs on April municipal ballot

School bonds costing $37M for security, structure repairs on April municipal ballot
Published: Mar. 16, 2023 at 11:05 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Voters heading to the ballot box next month will find over $37 million of school bonds put forth by the Anchorage School District.

The upcoming April election ballot will feature Proposition 1, which would be used to improve security and structural integrity for select schools in 2024.

The proposed projects cost a total of $37,786,928 and are slated to pay for both security and structural upgrades to schools within the district. The school district says that this initiative will help recruit new teachers to the district area.

Some of the security upgrades mentioned in the proposition will add security cameras alongside bullet-resistant panels to the reception desk, interior windows to the principals’ desks, lockdown buttons for admins and principals, and secure vestibules for several elementary schools, including:

  • Birchwood Elementary
  • Bowman Elementary
  • Northwood Elementary
  • Ocean View Elementary
  • Spring Hill Elementary
  • Trailside Elementary

A secure vestibule works as a checkpoint at the entrance that people must pass through before entering the school.

The security vestibule has worked to prevent deadly situations before. In 2018, a man tried to enter an Anchorage school with a gun but was locked out by the vestibule until the Anchorage Police Department arrived.

Anchorage School Board member Andy Holleman said that these measures are now being included because around the time the buildings were constructed, “no one really thought too much about schools being attacked.”

The project proposal characterizes these security upgrades as “a top priority for the District Administration,” and says that the project will continue to be at the forefront of their funding.

As for the structural upgrades, four buildings would be receiving repairs to their roofs to prevent leakage — College Gate, Kasuun and Kincaid Elementary, as well as the school district’s warehouse and purchasing building in the Spenard neighborhood — and Bettye Davis East High School will undergo construction installing fire suppression systems, improving seismic resistance, updating lighting, and providing disability accessibility in restrooms.

As to the expenses for each of the projects, the Secure Vestibule and Security Improvements will cost $8,670,928, camera upgrades will cost $800,000, and structural repairs and upgrades will be $28,316,000.

Holleman said that school building maintenance is an evolving process as “the most economical thing to do is to keep pace with it as it happens.”

He also said that they want to create a fostering environment.

“When kids and the community are in our buildings, we want to feel like they’re in a decent place that’s being kept up,” Holleman said.

Proposition No. 1 will be on the Anchorage Regular Municipal Election Ballot on April 4. Anchorage residents can register to vote or update their information on the Division of Elections website.