The approval of additional bonds for the construction of a new high school is an unwise idea for several reasons.
The original approval (October 1999) included renovation of Juneau-Douglas High School. JDHS is crowded; however, there are no new classrooms added under the proposals.
The state of Alaska projections indicate a lower growth in the student population of Juneau than the school district projections. Do we need a school larger than the one currently funded?
The current design calls for a core area for 1,500 students and classroom space for about 800 students. "As the student population grows, more classrooms can be added cost-effectively." This seems like a wise way to manage a possible need for more classrooms in the future.
Enrollment figures for the school district for the past five years show a decrease in the number of students:
2002 5,497 (This is larger than the prior year, but is still below the 1999 enrollment figure).
The initial, increased, annual cost to the school district (net of state funding) is about $247,000 for the current school planned and about $359,00 for the larger school proposed. At the present time, the city funds the school district to the maximum extent allowed by law.
The revised plans for the new high school include a "commercial kitchen large enough to support lunch programs at additional schools (which may require some separately funded modifications at those schools"). How much will these modifications cost? How will they be paid?
The state's financial future is uncertain.
Will the state be able to continue debt reimbursement as it has in the past? If not, and the new bonds are approved, Juneau citizens would be responsible for full payment of the debt on the bonds.
Are the citizens of Juneau receptive to a possible sales tax and the increased property taxes related to this increased bond issue?
The quotations above are from the Voter Information available on the city Web site.
We want good education for our children. We need to realize that we can achieve this under the funding approved by the voters in 1999. The additional bonds are not needed to achieve this objective.
Sara H. Willson
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