Bonds back before voters

High school projects need to be split, city says

Posted: Tuesday, August 21, 2001

Juneau voters will weigh in this October about whether to separate bond authorization for two high school construction projects.

The Juneau Assembly on Monday approved language that will appear in a ballot proposition in the Oct. 2 election. The measure would split bond authorization for plans to renovate Juneau-Douglas High School and to build a new high school at Dimond Park.

Voter approval to separate the projects is needed to take advantage of a 70 percent state reimbursement of bond debt to renovate JDHS, according to the city. The Legislature has not approved funding for the new high school.

The proposition would not authorize any new debt. Assembly member Ken Koelsch said officials hope to get support from voters so the renovation project can proceed.

"We hope that we can start doing something for the kids that are going through (JDHS) right now," he said.

In 1999, Juneau voters authorized almost $60 million in bonds for the two school projects, contingent on getting at least 50 percent state reimbursement. Voters also allowed another $3 million in bond proceeds to be spent to design the projects and demolish the old state ferry building next to JDHS. That funding was not contingent on state reimbursement, according to the ballot language in 1999, and it is being spent now.

About $4 million in sales tax proceeds will be added to the $13 million bond for the JDHS renovation. The project includes improvements to the school's commons area, auditorium and science labs, a new kitchen, and mechanical and electrical upgrades. Work is scheduled to start as soon as school ends next spring, according to school district facilities manager Joe Mueller.

The Assembly on Monday awarded a bid to Channel Construction to demolish the ferry building at a cost of $450,000. The city will take possession of the building Sept. 1.

The property will be used as a staging and parking area as construction occurs at JDHS. The ultimate goal is to allow the schools to use the area for recreation, Koelsch said.

Meanwhile, the city is working on the design for a new school at Dimond Park. The ballot proposition would authorize $47 million in bonds for the new high school if the project qualifies for 50 percent or more state reimbursement.

Joanna Markell can be reached at joannam@juneauempire.com.



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