Voters' approval of Proposition 1 in Tuesday's municipal elections means Gastineau Elementary School should be brought up to code and completely renovated by the end of summer 2012.
The ballot question asked voters to authorize the city to borrow $11.8 million for the renovations at the 52-year-old school that has never been fully renovated. Up to 70 percent of that cost is eligible for reimbursement from the state, leaving local property owners a tax burden of about $12 per $100,000 of assessed value for 10 years.
The unofficial vote tally was overwhelmingly in favor of the renovations, 3,912 to 1,591.
Mike Martin was part of the minority.
"Taxes are probably high enough," he said, explaining his vote against Proposition 1.
Tom Rutecki felt otherwise.
"I just think Gastineau School is long overdue. It's been over 50 years," he said after leaving the Salmon Creek precinct.
James Perry had three children go through the school system, and said he knows the buildings' needs.
"These schools get worked hard, and they need to be spruced up a bit," he said.
The Douglas school needs upgrades to mechanical, ventilation and lighting systems, and needs to be brought up to code. Teachers work in former closets with no windows or ventilation, carpets are stained and worn, walls are pock-marked and children eat lunch in the gym.
The district plans to renovate over the next three summers, starting with the mechanical work in 2010, followed by bigger renovations in 2011 and 2012, said Juneau School District Facilities Coordinator Deb Morse.
Renovations include a fence around the playground to keep kids in and bears out. Work on the grounds could also fix flooding problems that sometimes put the back alleyway under 2 feet of water.
Many other voters on the prevailing side said it wasn't necessarily the specifics of the project that won their vote, but just a general support for education.
"It's important to support the development of education," said Amanda Edwards on her way out of the Lemon Creek poll.
Over the summer, the Juneau School Board had sought putting two additional school renovation projects on Tuesday's ballot, but amid the recession and forecasts of tough budget years, the Juneau Assembly acted only on the Gastineau Elementary request, the district's highest priority project. Similar renovations for Auke Bay Elementary School and the district's Marie Drake building downtown remain unfunded.
Contact Jeremy Hsiehat 523-2258 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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