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School district wants more repair funding

Officials ask that bonds for 3 projects be placed on ballot

Posted: Monday, June 23, 2003

The Juneau School District is asking the Assembly to place bonds for three school renovation projects on the Oct. 7 city ballot.

The district expects the projects to be eligible for state reimbursement at 70 percent of the bond debt.

The district is requesting $4.7 million for further renovations of Floyd Dryden Middle School, $422,000 to replace water pipes in Harborview Elementary School and $153,000 to replace the gym floor at Auke Bay Elementary School.

The district's request will be introduced to the Assembly at its regular meeting today, which starts at 7 p.m. Putting bond proposals on the ballot requires passage of an ordinance, which specifies the ballot language and is drafted by the city's bond counsel, said City Clerk Laurie Sica.

City Finance Director Craig Duncan said he hasn't calculated the proposed debt yet. But he said, for example, that a $5 million debt reimbursed at 70 percent and paid off over 10 years at current market rates would cost local taxpayers combined about $200,000 a year.

In some years the state has offered grants for school renovations, especially on the scale of the Auke Bay and Harborview projects, schools Superintendent Peggy Cowan said. But a statewide ballot proposition passed by voters in November 2002 triggered a bond-reimbursement program. The window of opportunity is open until June 31, 2005.

Juneau voters recently approved $12.6 million in bonds for a new high school and $12.5 million in bonds for further repairs of Juneau-Douglas High School, with the expectation of some state reimbursement.

And in 2000, voters approved $7.7 million in bonds for some school projects, including $5.4 million to start fixing up the 31-year-old Floyd Dryden Middle School. The state is reimbursing those bonds at 70 percent of the debt.

The first phase of the Dryden work is expected to be largely completed this summer, with work on the gym to take place next summer, said Joe Mueller, the district's facilities manager. McGraw's Custom Construction of Sitka is the general contractor.

The first phase will add a new roof, replace the ceiling and add paint and carpet in most of the building, replace most lockers and improve the lighting, plumbing and ventilation.

The second phase would spruce up the eighth-grade rooms, add skylights in the commons, improve the handicap accessibility of the bathrooms, paint the exterior, replace exterior windows and doors and replace the heating system and oil tank.

At Harborview, the bond proceeds would allow the district to replace the water system's galvanized steel pipes, which have rusted, with copper pipes. The school's water is discolored, although not unsafe, said Superintendent Cowan.

At Auke Bay, the bonds would pay to replace the concrete-based gym floor, which has been in place for 34 years. The floor's surface is coming apart at the seams, the district said.

Eric Fry can be reached at efry@juneauempire.com.



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