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Bonds sought for school renovation

Money would fulfill condition of $6 million in state appropriations

Posted: Sunday, July 03, 2005

The Juneau School Board agreed Friday to ask the Juneau Assembly to consider putting bonds on the October ballot to renovate Glacier Valley Elementary.

The Legislature this past session approved nearly $6 million for a Juneau school project, conditioned on local voters' accepting 30 percent of the cost.

Juneau has until Oct. 31, 2006, to accept the offer. That means putting the bonds on the upcoming ballot, or in a special election, or the October 2006 election, said School Board member Bob Van Slyke.

The School Board, which now meets at the Assembly chambers, held a special meeting Friday afternoon.

"Is this good timing for our schools to have this issue on the ballot?" School Board President Mary Becker asked.

In an interview, Mayor Bruce Botelho said no other bonds are likely to be proposed for the October ballot. But the Assembly's Finance Committee has recommended asking voters to approve extending a 1 percent sales tax for nine years.

Botelho said it was premature to comment on the School Board's action.

Glacier Valley, a 325-student school, was built in the mid-1960s. A library was added in 1977. It has a new roof and heat-distribution system, but it has never been substantially renovated, said city architect Catherine Fritz.

A renovation would add 30 years to the school's life, she said, and would be far less expensive than building a new school.

But Fritz suggested that a renovation shouldn't just replace worn items and meet accessibility requirements. It should improve the school's ability to educate children.

Using modern Riverbend Elementary as a model, Fritz said that 8,000 square feet of Glacier Valley - 15 percent of the total - could be reconfigured for better use.

Glacier Valley, for example, doesn't have a commons, a type of space that is heavily used at Riverbend.

A more comprehensive renovation might cost about $9 million, Fritz said. The district already has some funds for major repairs at Glacier Valley. But even with that and the bonds, the project would fall short $1.4 million, she said.

• Eric Fry can be reached at eric.fry@juneauempire.com.



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