Port Angeles to ask voters for 2015 high school bond

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Port Angeles School District voters will be asked to decide on a bond for a new high school in a special election next year.

On Thursday night, School Board members voted 4-1, with member Sarah Methner opposed, to place a bond to fund a replacement for the aging Port Angeles High School, 304 E. Park Ave., on the February 2015 ballot.

The board also voted 5-0 to issue a request for qualifications from architectural and engineering firms to provide pre-bond planning services.

Kelly Pearson, district director of finance and operations, estimated at the meeting that the bond would likely be between $80 million and $100 million.

“Ball park, that’s about what it costs to build a high school the size we want to build, but we really aren’t sure,” Pearson said.

“That’s why we’re doing a request for qualifications.”

Methner said she would like to see the bond put to voters sooner rather than later.

“I would like to shoot for Nov. 4,” Methner said at the meeting.

“That high school needs to be replaced, and we need to get moving.”

The district’s Long Range Facilities Task Force recommended in December that the School Board ask voters to pass a bond to build a new high school.

Autumn design work

Board member Lonnie Linn said architectural design work likely won’t be completed until the fall.

“To even know what we’re going to ask for would be October,” Linn said.

A design firm found through the request for qualifications and chosen by the board would develop the scope and costs of construction of a new high school, Pearson said, joined by a committee of school staff and community members.

Pearson said she supported putting the bond on the February 2015 ballot in part because that’s also when she expects the board to seek a renewal of its maintenance and operations levy, even though the board has not decided on a date for a levy vote.

“A February vote putting bond and levy together is going to give us our best chance of passing,” Pearson said.

District spokeswoman Tina Smith-O’Hara said Friday a board vote on when to put the levy to voters has not been held.

“They have not voted to have it February, but it’s very likely as far as timing that they will do that,” Smith-O’Hara said.

The last levy passed in February 2011 with 59.8 percent of the vote and will expire in December of this year, according to the school district website.

Parts of the high school are 60 years old, the board was told in December, making those the oldest of the district’s school buildings currently in use.

A 2007 state inspection determined that the high school fell below state standards for electric and plumbing systems, seismic stability, roofing window and energy efficiency, and fire protection and detection.

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Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at jschwartz@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: January 25. 2014 5:12PM
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