Juneau voters will once again be asked to approve the issuance of general obligation bond debt for education - this time to renovate Glacier Valley Elementary School.
The Oct. 4 general municipal election will give Juneau voters the choice of approving $5,995,000 in bond debt for upgrading Glacier Valley. If voters approve Proposition No. 4, Juneau could pay for 30 percent of the debt because the project qualifies for 70 percent reimbursement under the state's School Construction Bond Debt Reimbursement.
"It's a good investment. Glacier Valley Elementary School has served us for 40 years and with this renovation it would serve us another 30 years," said Juneau School District Superintendent Peggy Cowan.
Cowan said the Glacier Valley renovation is the No. 1 priority on the district's six-year capital improvement plan.
"The school's 40 years old and it hasn't had replacement of any of its major systems," she said. "And the systems are worn and need to be replaced."
The replacement of fan systems, air ducts, ventilation, windows and doors would improve safety and security, Cowan said.
"Some of the codes have changed over the last 40 years and in order to meet the current codes they need changing," she said.
Glacier Valley Principal Ted Wilson said the renovations would help engage the students of the 21st Century.
"We were created for the world of '63 that didn't include the things that we have now, especially all the computers," he said. "And things are worn out. The ventilation system is worn and inefficient and actually costs lots of money to keep running."
The renovation would create a more comfortable learning environment for students, Wilson said.
"Being more comfortable allows your focus to be on your work or your lesson rather than your environment around you," he said.
Wilson, who was a teacher at Glacier Valley for six years prior to becoming principal there, said the renovations would also help the teachers' ability to teach.
"Some of the cosmetic upgrades just make it a more appealing learning environment, and to everyone who spends time in the facility it's more relaxing when your in a place that feels comfortable, that feels fresh," he said. "When your in a place that feels older ... that can affect your attitude when you're either working or learning."
Cowan said she hopes the voters will approve the proposition since it qualifies for partial reimbursement and because the school is in dire need of certain upgrades.
"We're really grateful that we have the opportunity for the state to pay 70 percent of the costs," she said.
Cowan said the renovation would certainly be less expensive than building a new elementary school.
"The Legislature made (funds) available and gave us the opportunity to have these funds for school renovations but it's up to the voters to approve us getting those funds and getting reimbursed at the 70 percent rate by voting for this project," she said.
Eric Morrison can be reached at email@example.com.