I urge "Yes" votes for both high school bonds. My family will not directly benefit from these projects, as our youngest child will graduate in 2004. Having spent numerous hours volunteering at JDHS in recent years, I've experienced the extreme overcrowded conditions. Students, teachers, administrators and parents all tell us overcrowding is a factor in our student dropout rate, a very serious problem at JDHS.
Proposition 2 basically refinances our debt on the JDHS renovation with state money that is now available because of recent legislation. It will not raise property taxes. Some funding is added for a playing field, additional parking, classroom furniture, computer equipment and physical upgrades. The need for these additions is clear. Many parents have quit coming to volunteer at JDHS because they can not find places to park. Again, no additional taxes.
The history of Proposition 1 and the ballot language are very confusing. But here is the bottom line. We now have the lowest bond interest rates in 40 years, and a higher state reimbursement rate than anticipated when Juneau voters approved the new high school project in 1999. We get a school roughly the size approved by the voters, with some key additions, for less than the projected local tax contribution calculated in 1999. Despite the inflation in construction costs from 1999 to 2004, we get the second gym, classrooms for 1,100 kids and improved food service capability for the entire school district.
If Proposition 1 is rejected, the school would open with capacity for only 800 students. If we have any student population growth and could convince some of our dropouts to return, both JDHS and the new high school would be at full capacity when the new high school opens. Every politically astute observer tells me the current state reimbursement program is likely to be the last for a long time to come. We should authorize the money now to cash in on the highest state reimbursement rate, lower construction costs and economy of effort and scale.
Vote "Yes" on 1 and "Yes" on 2.