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Central Kitsap School Board mulls possible levy for 2010

Facilities maintenance can no longer be ignored.

The sky isn’t exactly falling for the Central Kitsap School District, but the roof is leaking, the pipes are creaking and the heating and air conditioning doesn’t always work in many of the district’s facilities.

Unfortunately, with 85 percent of its general fund revenues allocated to salaries and benefits, there aren’t many pennies to put a dent in the current $113 million backlog of maintenance and repairs, despite the district spending $55 million since 2000 on those types of projects.

At Tuesday night’s CKSD Board of Directors study session, CKSD Executive Director of Business and Operations David McVicker presented the case for a recurring four-year capital projects levy beginning in 2011.

“Safety issues are increasing and as buildings get older, we spend more time in them, and there is a negative impact on learning,” McVicker told the board.

Jackson Park Elementary and Central Kitsap Junior High (CKJH) schools are the two facilities in the greatest need for maintenance and repairs, he said, noting that when the committee studying the possible levy set its priorities there were still questions about closing CKJH.

McVicker said there are $24 million in repairs that have reached the critical standpoint and the longer the district is unable to fund facilities maintenance, the higher the cost will be in the future.

“The no-funding option is pretty bleak,” McVicker said as he presented the board with four possible options for a capital projects levy that is anticipated to go before voters along with a school support levy in 2010.

The first option, which would fully fund all of the renovations in a 24-year period, would include maximum state matching funds, but it would increase the capital projects levy tax rate from its current $1.32 per $1,000 of assessed property value to $2.62 per $1,000 of assessed value.

If that option were approved, $60.8 million would be allocated to completely renovate four or five facilities including all of the backlog repairs at those four or five facilities and provide an additional $16.4 million for repairs at other buildings.

The second option, which would provide $50.3 million to renovate three or four facilities and $18.3 million for backlog repairs at other buildings, would increase the capital projects tax levy from 63 cents per $1,000 assessed value to $1.97 per $1,000 assessed value.

In that scenario, all of the district’s facilities would be renovated in 36 years, but a bond issue would have to be considered in about 20 years.

The third option would not increase the capital projects tax levy rate, and would provide $36 million for backlog repairs during its first four-year iteration. However, it would take 48 years to renovate all of the district’s existing facilities.

The final option, which would provide no local funding, would force the district to consider a bond or levy measure in a year or two to address the continued increasing backlog of repairs.

Board member Bruce Richards said he would like to see the district consider the first three options, but added that the first option is “an ideal world.”

Voters should be supportive of renewing the levy “if you can come back four years later and show what you’ve done and that you’ve been good stewards,” Richards said.

By setting a four-year cycle for the levy, McVicker said the district has the chance to create “a different environment” in terms of being able to pass the levy.

“The question is how much risk can you afford to take,” CKSD Superintendent Greg Lynch told the board, reminding them of the current economic environment.

Board member Carl Johnson said whatever plan the board decides to support has to include the consequences of not funding it in making the case to voters.

At the end of the discussion, the board directed Lynch and district staff to flesh out the first three options before preparing to take the issue to the voters.

“We just need the first four years,” Richards said.

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