Toledo School Bond

Toledo School District Superintendent Chris Rust stands in front of one of the many partitioned classrooms adjacent to the high school's library during a tour in January 2017. The district successfully passed a bond this year, but not before several failures to reach the 60 percent threshold. 

The state Legislature has set aside $10 million toward construction of a new high school in Toledo, but there’s a caveat — voters must first agree to pass a $7 million bond.

Voters in Toledo have rejected four separate school bonds since 2014, the most recent being a $12.2 million request from the district in February.

Now, Superintendent Chris Rust says he will begin reaching out to the community members who have opposed the previous bonds in order to determine whether it would be wise to pursue the matter a fourth time.

“I can’t afford to make our voters angry,” said Rust, who noted he has heard and understands the feedback of some residents who were annoyed and frustrated by the district’s most recent attempt at bond, which came just after the previous failure in November.

“I want people to ask us to run this bond, to say, ‘Boy this is a good deal. Would you please ask for it?” Rust said.

The deal is sweetened by the fact that, if a bond is approved, the district would receive an additional $8 to $9 million in funding from the state’s School Construction Assistance Program. Adding that to the $7 million bond and the $10 million approved by lawmakers as a distressed schools grant in the supplemental capital budget, the district would have about $25 million to spend on a new school.

Rust plans to ask opponents of previous measures to publicly endorse the plan through letters to the editor in The Chronicle and other means. If a majority of those district residents remain opposed to the plan after hearing the full proposal from Rust and other supporters, Rust said he will advise the school board that the best course of action is to not run the bond.

“If they can’t support it, (we) will recommend the board not run the bond and say (to the state), ‘Please give the money to a school district that needs it and will appreciate it,’” Rust said.

If previous opponents of the bonds are in favor of the idea, the district will have one opportunity to place it on a ballot in 2018 and two in 2019. If a bond is approved, and the state money arrives as expected, the soonest a new high school could be built would be fall 2020.

“I think that this is a sweetheart deal, but I don’t think I can predict our community, whether they would be in favor of this or not,” Rust said Friday, later adding, “This is our last best hope for doing anything for the high school. I think it’s going to do nothing but get more expensive … I don’t see the Legislature doing this another time.”

Rust praised the work of local state lawmakers Rep. Richard DeBolt, R-Chehalis, and Rep. Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama, who worked closely with district leaders to add the money to the supplemental budget approved by the Legislature this week.

Members of the House Capital Budget Committee, among them state Rep. Steve Tharinger, D-Sequim, toured the school in October. They told Rust to reach out to them if voters rejected the latest bond attempt, so he did. From there, Rust attended a meeting with DeBolt, asking for $2.5 million in assistance from the state.

“I wanted to at least make the building warm and dry,” Rust said. “I went to meet with DeBolt, but he and Tharinger thought it was a mistake to do that because it’s such an old building.”

DeBolt, Tharinger and Orcutt instead worked to get $10 million toward the construction of a new school.

“DeBolt and his staff and Rep. Tharinger really did all the heavy lifting on this,” Rust said. “All we did was ask the question and tell the story. They did a remarkable job for our community.”

Local lawmakers will be in attendance at a meeting in Toledo later this month to make a direct pitch to voters when VISION:Toledo holds its community meeting March 22 at 7 p.m. at Toledo Middle School.

“I want the legislators to be able to say to our community, ‘It’s our intent that you build a new school,” Rust said.

Supplemental Budget Also Includes Funding for George Washington Statue, Other Local Projects

Local projects included in the Legislature’s supplemental budget, which passed Thursday on the final day of the session, range from funding for the George Washington statue in Centralia to $10 million in distressed schools money for Toledo Public Schools.

A rundown of area projects included in the budget shows legislators are on board with the 200th birthday celebrations for Centralia’s founder, pitching in $75,000 for the statue of George and Mary Jane Washington set to be unveiled in August. Based on previous estimates, the allocation would put the project well over the amount needed to complete the statue.

The biggest area payout is $10 million set aside for Toledo Public Schools, which the state’s fiscal website says is part of distressed schools funding.

Another $1.3 million was put toward fire restoration in the Scatter Creek Wildlife Area. The funds will be put toward structures, roads and trails damaged in last summer’s fire.

The bill also funds planning for a pedestrian overpass where the Willapa Hills Trail crosses State Route 6, with $21,000 marked for that purpose. Design and permitting for the overpass will take place in the 2017-19 biennium, with construction taking place in the following budget.

Infrastructure in Pe Ell will get a boost as well, with $340,000 in the supplemental budget. It’s unclear what project or projects that money is intended for.

Greenwood Cemetery will get a big investment of its own, with $250,000 set aside for the abandoned site.

In Packwood, $228,000 will go toward a Cowlitz River public access point.

•••

See more on the budget in Tuesday’s edition of The Chronicle. This story has been updated to note the correct number of bonds that have failed to win the approval of 60 percent of voters since 2014.

(6) comments

Buffalo gal

What a wonderful opportunity for our school district.

Cowlitzfisherman

I am not sure who is doing the math here! During the Toledo Schools Facilities Advisory Committee meetings (FAC), we fully discussed the options of building a new High School vs doing a remodeled one. According to how this article was written, its states that this is going to be a "new school" and not a remodeled one. Mr. Rust said that he had gotten estimates from CSG (the experts on what it takes to build new schools) on what it would cost to build a new high school for 300 students which would accommodate current enrollment and future projected growth in Toledo. That estimate did not include the 2.5 million that was needed for repairing the other two schools either. The estimate was about 32 million (see FAC minutes https://docs.google.com/a/toledoschools.us/viewer?a=v&pid=sites&srcid=dG9sZWRvc2Nob29scy51c3x0b2xlZG8tc2Nob29sLWRpc3RyaWN0LTIzN3xneDozYjIzNTJhZTYzOTc5NDgx

According to Rust, the TSD believes that they can get $8 to $9 million in funding from the state’s School Construction Assistance Program. If they get the full 10 million from SB 6095, that brings their funds up to 19 million at best. If they run a bond for only 7 million as stated, that brings their total funding up to only 26 million which still leaves them some 5 million dollars short, and that's not including their new rest rooms and track proposal which comes to another $850,000 or more.

One more question, the article said: "Rust plans to ask opponents of previous measures to publicly endorse the plan through letters to the editor in The Chronicle and other means. If a majority of those district residents remain opposed to the plan after hearing the full proposal from Rust and other supporters, Rust said he will advise the school board that the best course of action is to not run the bond."

Other then the few brave people who stood up and wrote opposing opinions against the bond, how on earth is Mr. Rust going to know who those 715 no "opponents" voters were? Mr. Rust has already stated that he would volunteer to go out and get those "no voters" who hadn't voted. Did anyone even know that the "yes voters" had gotten your names and addresses here in Toledo so that they could come to your home to lobby your yes vote? They, without your knowledge were getting that information to see if YOU had voted or not so that they could come to your home and get that yes vote for their bond. Desperation…you tell me!

One other question that needs to be answered now and it’s a BIG one; If TSD truly needed the bond figures that they gave to us in this FAC process to do the total repairs/remodeling on their high school which was priced at $19,537,690.57 (19 + million) total why now are they asking us to support their bond for $26 million total? I am sure that by using Mr. Rust's math that he will likely give us some sort of answer! Follow the money ….and make your own conclusions at this early stage. There was a valid reason why the yes voters barely got 51% of the vote on this last bloated bond. The big issue that is coming is will the district be able to cut their new deal after the voters knowing what they know now? One has to ask the other voters in our county, why didn't they cut such a "deal" for them and those other poor cities such as Winlock instead of waiting to see if their voters had passed their own big costly bond/levies?

Lets see where this newest debacle all ends up!

Cowlitzfisherman

Not sure why my above post was so choped up before it was posted here. So lets try it one more time.

I am not sure who is doing the math here! During the Toledo Schools Facilities Advisory Committee meetings (FAC), we fully discussed the options of building a new High School vs doing a remodeled one. According to how this article was written, its states that this is going to be a "new school" and not a remodeled one. Mr. Rust said that he had gotten estimates from CSG (the experts on what it takes to build new schools) on what it would cost to build a new high school for 300 students which would accommodate current enrollment and future projected growth in Toledo. That estimate did not include the 2.5 million that was needed for repairing the other two schools either. The estimate was about 32 million (see FAC minutes https://docs.google.com/a/toledoschools.us/viewer?a=v...

According to Rust, the TSD believes that they can get $8 to $9 million in funding from the state’s School Construction Assistance Program. If they get the full 10 million from SB 6095, that brings their funds up to 19 million at best. If they run a bond for only 7 million as stated, that brings their total funding up to only 26 million which still leaves them some 5 million dollars short, and that's not including their new rest rooms and track proposal which comes to another $850,000 or more.

One more question, the article said: "Rust plans to ask opponents of previous measures to publicly endorse the plan through letters to the editor in The Chronicle and other means. If a majority of those district residents remain opposed to the plan after hearing the full proposal from Rust and other supporters, Rust said he will advise the school board that the best course of action is to not run the bond."

Other then the few brave people who stood up and wrote opposing opinions against the bond, how on earth is Mr. Rust going to know who those 715 no "opponents" voters were? Mr. Rust has already stated that he would volunteer to go out and get those "no voters" who hadn't voted. Did anyone even know that the "yes voters" had gotten your names and addresses here in Toledo so that they could come to your home to lobby your yes vote? They, without your knowledge were getting that information to see if YOU had voted or not so that they could come to your home and get that yes vote for their bond. Desperation…you tell me!

One other question that needs to be answered now and it’s a BIG one; If TSD truly needed the bond figures that they gave to us in this FAC process to do the total repairs/remodeling on their high school which was priced at $19,537,690.57 (19 + million) total why now are they asking us to support their bond for $26 million total? I am sure that by using Mr. Rust's math that he will likely give us some sort of answer! Follow the money ….and make your own conclusions at this early stage. There was a valid reason why the yes voters barely got 51% of the vote on this last bloated bond. The big issue that is coming is will the district be able to cut their new deal after the voters know what they know now? One has to ask the other voters in our county, why didn't they cut such a "deal" for them too along with those other poor small towns such as Winlock instead of waiting to see if their voters had passed their own big costly bond/levies?

Let's see where this newest debacle all ends up! It's truly amazing how back room politics work when our school officials meet in private with our legislators who get them elected!

Chris Rust


This is the best opportunity that I’ve ever heard of for any school district in my 30 years in education. If our community chooses to tax themselves at around .$.99/1000 and passes a bond for $7 million, the state of Washington will provide the district with $18 million to build a new Toledo High School. The state is saying that if we can provide $7 million, we can have a total budget of $25 million for a new school. This isn’t negotiable or subject to debates over estimates or soft costs. If we put up $7, we get $18 for a total of $25. If we do not, we get nothing.
It has been clear to all from the beginning that the repair and modernization needs at the high school would put a strain on everyone’s budget. That’s why we have been so diligent in seeking out grants such as the TransAlta grant for the TES boilers and this Distressed Schools Grant for a new high school. We have an opportunity that includes a $10 million grant and approximately $8-9 million in State Construction Assistance that will cost Toledo taxpayers no additional money IF we are willing to have 60% of our voters pass a $7 million bond prior to June 30, 2019. This grant is for a NEW school that can cost no more than we’re receiving (about $25 million). A new Toledo High School would keep the shop and gym and possibly the commons. These areas would be remodeled and repaired. The rest of the school would be built from the ground up. When complete, the old classrooms would be demolished.
Here's the math:
• State Grant- $10 million
• State Construction Assistance Program- $8 million
• Our Share (Toledo Capital Bond)- $7 million
• Total- $25 million for a new high school
The feedback that we all got from the last bond measure was that our patrons were unhappy that the district would even ask again after being told no three previous times. What many didn’t understand is that each bond measure is a separate question. We have never asked for the same bond twice. $23.5 million, $14.4 million, $12.9 million, $12.2 million with track and restrooms if they could be found in construction savings. Toledo Schools may need to approach the taxpayers for a replacement levy in 2019 to replace the levy that will expire that year. This levy can be no more than $1.50/1000 (currently $2.17/1000). We will be dependent upon our patrons to approve that levy to continue our programming. The district has no wish to anger its patrons. I plan to meet with and ask community members, especially those who have not been able to support previous measures to consider this opportunity. If they think that it is a good opportunity, I’ll ask that they make their opinions known publicly through a letter to the editor, post on Facebook, letter to the board, etc. This way, we’ll know if our community supports placing this measure on the ballot. We’ll be sending out postcards in our next newsletter requesting that people let us know whether they think a $7 million bond should be on a ballot. We need to know that our community wants to vote on this before we put it out for a vote. As Mr. Reid has said many times, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
Mr. Reid, I’m sorry that you think that the Citizens for Great Toledo Schools (CGTS) engaged in campaign “tricks”. CGTS legally purchased voter rolls for the voters in Toledo School District for the purpose of reminding people to vote. For those that did not have phone numbers, CGTS visited the address listed. These were people who were familiar to the members of the campaign committee. CGTS did not attempt to change people’s minds about how to vote. I personally campaigned during my off time away from work and when I met with people who were planning to vote no, I politely wished them a good day and left. As you know, voter rolls are public records and may be obtained for a nominal cost. There is nothing underhanded about identifying the voters in the district for the purpose of advocating for or against any measure or candidate. It is standard practice for all campaigns. It is unfortunate that you feel you cannot endorse your own $8.9 million bond/levy proposal for repairs to the high school because you are offended by the tactics used by those who disagree with you.
There is no $26 million bond. Remember, this opportunity is:
• State Grant- $10 million
• State Construction Assistance Program- $8 million
• Our Share (Toledo Capital Bond)- $7 million
• Total- $25 million for a new high school
Here is some additional information for perspective. THS was built in 1974. At that time, the tax rate for the bond was $1.63/ 1000. The tax rate for a new high school at $7 million local share is about $.99/ 1000. Readers may wonder where the $7 million figure came from. When I was asked if I thought our community could support a small bond in exchange for a new high school, I remembered seeing this quote three days before the last election, “Once the school board lowers their remodel costs down to the $7 million mark, they may get that 60% majority vote that they need. But until then, they are getting what they have asked for…lots of NO votes and more to come!”—Bob “cowlitzfisherman” Reid, Chronicle comment Feb 10, 2018 Based on that, I told Rep. DeBolt that I thought our community could support a bond for $7 million. This bond would do more with less than all other measures that have been placed before voters in the past. This bond is only $1.5 million more than the 1995 bond to update TES and TMS and will be used to construct a NEW school.
We listened to you. Knowing all of this Mr. Reid, do you stand by your statement? Will you publicly endorse a $7 million bond on the ballot to fund a new school?

Cowlitzfisherman

Chris
Please tell me it's no true that you or the TSD wants to increase your wages even much higher in this depressed area then it already is…such as from a $112,000 base salary to an increase of some $6000 or more ($118,000)? Since 40% of the people here are 200% below poverty levels, is that really true or even fair to ask? I heard that your salary request went into "executive session" at the last board meeting. Did you get that extra $6000 wage increase that you wanted to get? If not, what did the TSD give to you? Are you going to talk about this at your Community meeting on the 22nd?

Cowlitzfisherman

This is really a big question to ask back to you Chris Rust…

You just stated…"This bond is only $1.5 million more than the 1995 bond to update TES and TMS and will be used to construct a NEW school.
We listened to you. Knowing all of this Mr. Reid, do you stand by your statement? Will you publicly endorse a $7 million bond on the ballot to fund a new school?"

Short answer… NO!

The TSD never "listened to me…even back then and at that time, they used the same kind of lame brain excuses such as "we only used the "interest" of the bond to do it" TSD and the good old boys could have paid down the "bond"back then, but you guys chose to spend our hard earned tax dollars on a stupid sport program that you are still trying to keep alive and promote today.

Please explain to the readers here how your "bond" that was proposed back in 2014 at $23.5 million bucks (excluding the additional state matching 8-9 million bucks of state matching funds) has now dropped down to just $7 million today? And you talk about pork fat and tax payers trusting the TSD? I am looking forward to discussing these issues with you Mr. Rust.

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