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$59 million school bond proposal placed on April ballot

Rosemary Shinohara

The Anchorage Assembly has agreed to place a $59 million bond proposition for school upgrades and renovation on the April city election ballot.

The proposition covers projects across the city, including general renovations and upgrading career and technical facilities.

It includes $9.1 million for Service High renovations, $13.2 million for career and technical facilities at West High School and Romig Middle School, and design money for improvements to Girdwood K-8 School and Airport Heights Elementary School.

The Assembly voted 10-1 Tuesday night in favor of putting the proposition on the ballot. Mayor Dan Sullivan said Wednesday that he's fine with that decision.

The Assembly voted against a move by Assemblywoman Jennifer Johnston to cut the proposal to $45.9 million, leaving out construction of the West-Romig vocational and technical facilities. Her version would have still contained money to plan the project.

"I'm concerned about getting a bond package that passes," said Johnston. She thinks $59 million is too much. But her motion failed with only four of the 11 Assembly members in favor.

In the 2011 city election, voters rejected two out of three school bond propositions. The one that won approval was $17 million to expand vocational and technical facilities in schools.

The losers: a $37.2 million stand-alone proposition to complete additions and renovations to Service, and a $16.9 million proposition for citywide school safety projects and other upgrades.

Superintendent Carol Comeau said the fact that the Service project included a new auditorium turned voters against it this year, and probably contributed to the defeat of the second proposition as well.

"There was so much negativity toward the auditorium," she said.

The auditorium and a second gym that had been proposed previously are not part of the 2012 proposition, Comeau said. "It's strictly interior renovation of the existing structure."

For the upcoming election, the district proposed the minimum needed for Service renovations to qualify for a state grant of $21.3 million, she said. The grant requires a local match of about $9 million.

In addition, the state will reimburse a percentage of the debt for other projects in the $59 million proposition, she said, leaving local taxpayers to pay back 30 percent to 40 percent of the entire amount.


By ROSEMARY SHINOHARA
Anchorage Daily News