CK school district study sessions will look at bond necessity

The school board began a series of study sessions this past spring to develop plans for long-range facilities’ improvements.

They are considering asking voters to approve a bond in 2003 or 2004 — either $30 million or $40 million — to help accomplish improvements.

If no bond is requested next year, 2003, one might be on the ballot early 2004.

Money from the state and feds is insufficient to the task, said officials. (For hard numbers, see the Aug. 28 article on CK pondering its future.)

During the first study session, Assistant Superintendent for Business and Operations Gary Powell, said “This long-range facilities planning effort will impact the condition of the district’s schools and facilities over the next 10 to 20 years.”

To qualify for state matching funds to modernize schools, CKSD is completing a facilities study and survey report for the state’s Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). The report documents the current condition of CK schools and will help the district develop a 20-year plan.

Director of construction, facilities and maintenance, Richard Best, said, “Meeting the needs of our students’ educational program is a key factor in making renovations to our schools. While the district’s newer schools are designed with an effective educational program in mind, older schools need renovations that will allow for more flexible and effective settings.

“The resulting proposed plan will be presented in public meetings across the district to explain the needed renovations, and (to) gain feedback from parents and community members,” he said.

CK’s Facilities Advisory Committee (FAC) of parents, community members and district staff began working with consultants on the study last summer. The report includes a seismic analysis of buildings built prior to 1989, an on-site analysis of facilities, and a demographic analysis of student enrollment trends for the next decade.

Nine facilities with the most urgent renovation and repair needs have been identified. Needs run the gamut from slight to major, said community relations specialist, Jeanie Schulze.

The state provides matching funds to modernize schools built prior to 1982. The criteria for modernization is based on square footage. The formula considers the entire structure, including non-classrooms such as libraries, bathrooms, gyms and hallways.

Unfortunately, said Schulze and other officials, the state’s formula does not take into account the impact of I-728 Student Achievement funds, which may reduce the number of students in each classroom.

Officials said because CK can use some of its budget to qualify for state funding, it will submit the first required forms requesting cash to OSPI in August, for renovating Cottonwood Elementary next summer.

The study will be updated every two to three years to continue helping the district qualify for matching funds. The study will detail funding sources for federal heavy-impact aid, state and federal grants, state matching dollars, and possible voter-approved bonds.

“While early indications are that some of the necessary projects can be accomplished with existing dollars,” said CKSD Superintendent Cathy Davidson in her ‘Message from the Superintendent’ in the CK Schools “Connection” newsletter, “many will require significant funding beyond the district’s normal budget.”

The Facilities Advisory Committee is examining three possible capital improvement scenarios: no voter-elected bond money, a $30 million bond, a $40 million bond.

But the FAC and district officials were unable to develop a program utilizing zero bond dollars. Without some kind of voter-approved bond, the condition of district facilities will deteriorate, said officials.

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