The Oakville School District is aiming to pass a bond that will collect $5.6 million from Oakville citizens and qualify them for $9 million in matching funds from the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) School Construction Assistance Program.
The bond is intended to fund various projects to improve conditions for students.
The bond rate that will be voted on Feb. 11, 2020 is $2.18/ $1,000 of the total value of the resident’s properties. Oakville residents will also be voting on the 2020 Replacement Educational Programs and Operations Levy, which, unlike the bond, is not a new tax. The school has lowered the levy rate from $2.50/ $1,000 to $2.15 /$1,000.
“We haven’t had a bond here in almost 30 years now, so really we haven’t had any local money go toward improving our facilities in a long time,” said Rich Staley, Oakville School District Superintendent.
There are funds available to the Oakville School district at the state level as a part of the School Construction Assistance Program (SCAP) through the OSPI if the community passes the bond.
“Over time there’s kind of a fund that’s built at the state level (SCAP) that you can tap into when you get a bond to put some local dollars forward. This is a prime time for us to do this,” said Staley.
There are several projects on Oakville’s list that need funding but the project that has been deemed top priority by Oakville School district and the Washington State Department of Health is the relocation of the school’s kitchen and cafeteria.
The current kitchen and surrounding building was built in 1953 and it is not up to code in many ways, Staley said. He added that in 2019 their school kitchen barely passed the annual evaluation by the Health Department.
The building experiences numerous leaks that have required staff to move stored food and supplies to an unused classroom to avoid the leakage. There is asbestos flooring throughout the building which was banned in the 1980s due to the discovery of health risks associated with the material.
Some of the other projects that would be tackled after the relocation of the kitchen include: the replacement of the roofs of all buildings, the replacement of the HVAC system, remodeling of the student bathrooms and locker rooms, the demolition and replacement of the 1953 elementary school building, replacement of the public address (PA) system, upgrades to the alarm system, and remodeling of the high school entrance.
Staley explained that there is one set of bathrooms with two stalls in each for the 140 kids in middle school and high school to use.
“As a part of the remodel and the kitchen relocation we are going to add another set of bathrooms. So that’ll be a big deal for the kids,” he said.
Staley explained that the PA system was installed over 30 years ago and it does not communicate with all of the buildings on the campus, which is a safety concern in the event of an emergency.
“What we’ve found is that there’s actually six differnt HVAC systems in the district so you can imagine how efficient that is so the replacement of the HVAC system is a big deal for energy efficiency,” said Staley.
Staley said that they have been going after other funding sources and grants in addition to the bond in order to help fund the most important projects. Some of the other funding sources they have secured include a $35,000 donation from the Grays Harbor Foundation, a $20,00 donation from the Consolidated Chehalis Tribe, and most recently, secured a Small School Modernization Grant for $3.3 million, according to Rich Staley. Those funds in combination with the bond, OSPI matching funds, $425,000 in funds side aside by the district and monies written into legislature by Representatives Jim Walsh and Brian Blake totaling $500,000, will enable the district to complete most of their planned projects.
Oakville School district has estimated that it will cost an approximate $15,385,000 to complete the top-priority projects on their list. Staley said he has been working to get the word out about how badly the school needs these upgrades to the community.
“The hard part with the bond is the threshold, you have to get 60 percent of the vote where the levy only needs 50. So we’re doing a lot of work with the community to educate them and help them understand the need. It’s been a really good response so far,” said Staley.