By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News
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PORT ANGELES — Marc Jackson, Port Angeles School District's new superintendent, said he is ready to jump into the challenge of gaining voter approval for a bond measure to replace Port Angeles High School.
Jackson was introduced to about 60 Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce members at their Monday meeting.
Jackson said he has already been faced with the difficulties of working with a handful of 60-year-old schools.
“My first school board meeting dealt with approving funding to repair one of the schools where a pipe blew up.
“To get to the leaks we have to go through tile, cement, walls, and who knows what we'll find,” he said.
Jackson has been superintendent since July 1 and has owned a home in the Port Angeles area for 19 years as a summer resident.
Jackson replaced Jane Pryne, who was superintendent for five years leading up to her retirement
He was superintendent in Silver Valley Unified School District in California and has been a principal at three large schools.
Jackson said the delivery model for education has changed from having students simply sit in a classroom absorbing information, to a more collaborative setting, where students and teachers can work together on projects — and the Port Angeles High School buildings at 304 E. Park Ave. already have serious issues with heating, cooling, water systems and electrical systems. Further, the layout of the classrooms simply doesn't work with the direction education is heading.
“Collaboration is king. You have to think of your feet and must work together,” he said.
He said the collaboration and cooperation model that students are learning in school is reflected in the workplace after graduation.
Steve Methner, co-chairman of the Port Angeles Citizens for Education, also spoke about the upcoming district funding measures.
There will be two school district measures on the February ballot, Methner said.
The first will be the five-year maintenance and operation levy — which accounted for $8.4 million of the district's $40 million operations budget.
He said a renewal of the levy won't change tax rates for residents.
The second will be a construction bond to replace the high school — everything except for the gyms and the auditorium, which architects said would be too expensive to replace with new buildings of equivalent size and quality, Methner said.
It is not known how much the bond will be, he said since there is no design yet completed for approval, and it is uncertain how much matching funds will be available from the state.
Estimates for the cost of the new school have varied between $80 and $120 million.
The state may fund new schools at 40 to 60 percent of the cost of construction, but the number varies each year by how much is available in state coffers and how many qualifying districts are building new schools.
Construction rates are increasing, interest rates on construction loans are currently at historic lows and two bonds that were approved by voters years ago will expire just as the new bond is enacted, which means taxpayers would see a smaller increase in their tax bill if they approve the bond, Methner said.
“Every year we wait there will be 3 to 4 percent increase in cost,” he said.
A meeting for voters to meet the architects and share their vision for a new high school will be held at 6:30 p.m., Sept. 16, in the high school library.
Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.