Education

After this year’s school bond failed, the Anchorage School Board is proposing a smaller one for 2023

College Gate, Gollege Gate Elementary School, aerial, aerial photo, aerial photography, aerial photos, aerials, chalk the walk, elementary school, inspiration, school, schools

The Anchorage School Board has approved a roughly $38 million bond proposal that voters will decide in 2023 after the district’s most recent one narrowly failed during the spring election cycle.

The bond would mostly fund capital projects across the district, including security improvements at several elementary schools and roof and other upgrades to various district buildings.

The proposal would be up for voter approval in the April 2023 municipal election.

Earlier this year, a $111 million bond failed, with 51% of votes cast against the proposal. The district had been proposing bonds every two years.

The newer, smaller bond proposal represents a return to yearly bonds, said the school district’s acting chief operating officer Rob Holland during an October finance committee meeting. They are “smaller bonds that are more laser-focused where we want them to be more easily packaged for public consumption.”

Following the failure of the most recent school bond, the district conducted a survey, polling 384 residents who voted in the municipal elections. Of those who said they voted no on the bond, 47% said they “thought the funds were unnecessary or used poorly,” while 20% responded “they couldn’t afford it or thought there should be less taxes,” according to the survey results.

“I’ve learned my lesson the hard way about requesting an overwhelming-sized bond from the voters,” school board member Dora Wilson said during the October meeting. “And I think it’s really important that we reestablished that support from the community with the next bond proposition.”

ADVERTISEMENT

[In East Anchorage, families and neighbors reckon with the potential closure of a beloved elementary school]

Of the group in the survey who voted against the bond, 32% responded that a specific project had influenced their vote.

After this year’s municipal election, some said the bond’s failure could have been influenced by disagreement over a controversial plan to rebuild Inlet View Elementary School, which accounted for around $31 million of the bond proposal earlier this year. That project was the most commonly cited in the survey results, with about 8.1% of respondents noting that project specifically.

The rebuild of Inlet View remains unfunded and could be part of a 2024 school bond, according to district officials. The school board recently allocated two-thirds of a portion of school bond debt reimbursement money from the state Legislature to various capital improvement projects across the district. There’s community pressure to spend the remaining funds on reconstructing Inlet View, and the board will consider how to spend those dollars in December.

While there may be slight fluctuations in interest rates, the district estimated the 2023 bond proposal would cost taxpayers around $8.03 per $100,000 of assessed property. But, between fiscal year 2021 and 2023, the district is also retiring $104.12 million in bonds, resulting in a roughly $11.80 decrease per $100,000 of property, meaning taxpayers would still see a $3.77 decrease if next year’s bond passes.

“We’re not doing two-year bonds anymore, we’re doing one year at a time in smaller packages that are easier to understand and digest,” Holland said. “And so as a result of that philosophy and practice going forward, you see this net reduction to taxpayers in their pockets.”

The proposition includes $10.5 million for a roof replacement and seismic upgrades at College Gate Elementary and other district buildings, $6.1 million for Bettye Davis East Anchorage High academic area safety improvements,$11.8 million for roof improvements at some elementary schools and $9.5 million for security improvements.

• • •

Morgan Krakow

Morgan Krakow is a general assignment reporter for the Anchorage Daily News. She is a 2019 graduate of the University of Oregon and spent the summer of 2019 as a reporting intern on the general assignment desk of The Washington Post. Contact her at mkrakow@adn.com.

Sponsored