Move forward with school

Letter to the editor

Posted: Sunday, October 03, 2004

As an elected official I do not take lightly the decision to ask voters to pay more. Such an investment would have to be economical and provide obvious benefits to our community. The second high school meets those criteria; it's affordable and necessary.

How affordable?

School projects approved by communities before the end of this year qualify for 70 percent reimbursement from the state. The remaining cost translates into an average annual tax burden of about $50 (per 100,000 value) - about the cost of a family going to the movies. While it is not an insignificant amount, it is at much less cost than any other alternative that alleviates overcrowding. In addition, our district will attract an additional $1 million from the state and a possible matching quarter-million from the city to run the school. Rental savings are also possible. How beneficial?

Fourteen-plus permanent jobs will be created, from nurse and librarian to counselor and custodians. Positions will be added to serve academically advanced students and those learning English. These jobs will have a positive effect on our economy as individuals purchase homes and spend their paychecks.

Our community will have access to expanded recreation and arts spaces; gyms, a sports field, an auditorium, and a stocked library.

Our high school students will have twice the access they do now to activities and sports. And, research consistently shows students do better in smaller learning environments where it's less likely they will go unnoticed. If a more personalized place results in just 10 percent fewer kids dropping out, the district could attract an additional $350,000 from the state.

How necessary?

Juneau-Douglas High School is inadequate. It was built for about 1,200; over 1,600 are on campus. Marie Drake houses hundreds. So, why not simply expand Drake? Because it's not economical. Engineering and financial analyses indicated that option would require more local tax dollars and would not qualify for additional state funds.

The second high school has been planned, analyzed, and approved by voters three times in the last five years - and we have four more years to refine what happens inside that building.

Now is the time to move forward with this affordable, necessary and beneficial investment in our community.

Please vote on Oct. 5.

Andi Story

Juneau School Board

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