In the upcoming municipal election, the Anchorage School District is asking voters to approve a $37.8 million bond package that would primarily fund school security upgrades and roof replacements.
The bond is the district’s attempt at passing a smaller bond after last year’s $111 million bond narrowly failed. The new bond proposal also represents a return to yearly bonding, instead of the two-year cycle the district had been operating under.
Under the $37,787,000 proposal, roughly $6.4 million would go toward seismic and structural upgrades plus a roof upgrade at College Gate Elementary. A $6.1 million chunk would go toward Bettye Davis East High safety improvements. Around $11.8 million would improve roofs at Kasuun and Kincaid elementary schools. The warehouse and purchasing building would get a roof replacement alongside seismic and structural upgrades, costing about $4.1 million. Finally, there is $9.5 million in the bond for security improvements at Birchwood, Bowman, Northwood, Ocean View, Spring Hill and Trailside elementary schools.
In December, the school board approved a six-year capital improvement plan that maps out many of the projects the district will take on between July 1 of this year and June 30, 2029. The plan includes a provision to replace and construct Inlet View Elementary School in a 2024 bond, if approved by school board members. The rebuild of the school had been on the failed 2022 bond, which was a point of disagreement and controversy during that bond cycle.
Some projects from the failed bond were already handled by school bond debt reimbursement money from the state late last year, while others are appearing on the upcoming bond.
The district has 85 schools, 91 buildings and 7.8 million square feet of facilities that need to be maintained, the school district’s chief operating officer, Jim Anderson, told the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce at a Monday presentation.
At Kasuun and Kincaid Elementary, the roof upgrades are meant to extend the life of the roofs. While structurally sound, the design of the roofs means they get ice dams in the winter, which causes leaks, Anderson said.
“If you go to either of those schools right now, there’s a significant amount of water all throughout the buildings,” he said.
Under the bond, six schools would get new secure vestibules — 33 have already been completed at elementary schools districtwide. That work means school entrances, main offices and main doors would be improved, and the district would also install bullet-resistant panels. The vestibules also allow the school to lock all doors from the main office and keep visitors in one area, locked out of the school, before they can enter the building, Anderson said.
“You’re stuck in the secure vestibule until you can show identification and get approval to go into the main office,” he said.
According to Anderson, a $350,000 home would see roughly $16.40 in decreased property taxes if the bond is approved, since the district is retiring more bond debt than the new 2023 bond costs.
The bond is up for voter approval in the municipal election on April 4. Ballots will be mailed out to voters on March 14.