Ferndale High School boiler breaks down days before bond vote

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDFebruary 7, 2014 

FERNDALE - A boiler pump at Ferndale High School broke Saturday, Feb. 8, leaving an entire wing of the school without heat until it was fixed on Monday.

The timing of the breakdown was unfortunate, to say the least, Ferndale School District Superintendent Linda Quinn said, because it coincided with Tuesday's vote on a bond that would raise property taxes to overhaul Ferndale schools.

"I would have canceled school if it hadn't been the day before the vote," Quinn said. "If I canceled school, people would say I did it to make a statement about the bond."

School continued as scheduled, but classes were moved around to ensure no student had to be in a class in the coldest part of the school. Quinn said this wasn't ideal, as classes were forced into odd rooms such as the auditorium.

This is just one of the many problems the school has had with that boiler and other equipment, and that represents a need for an overhaul, said Mark Deebach, assistant superintendent of support services.

"It's the death of a thousand cuts," Deebach said. "In concert with everything else, it represents the need for some kind of improvement."

The boiler was fixed at 12:30 p.m. Monday after the replacement parts arrived Monday morning. Quinn said she would have liked it to be fixed sooner, but the parts couldn't be delivered over the weekend.

Ferndale is seeking voter approval for a $125 million bond to rebuild Ferndale High School, remodel a home for Windward High School and build a new maintenance and transportation center. The bond would increase property taxes by up to $1.72 per $1,000 of a home's assessed value, meaning the owner of a home valued at $250,000 would pay an additional $430 in property taxes each year if it passes.

Lynden has a $46 million bond on Tuesday's ballot that would rebuild Fisher Elementary School and Lynden Middle School. If it is approved, the 20-year bond would increase property taxes for a home assessed at $250,000 by about $440 per year.

Both bonds need approval by 60 percent of voters. Ballots must be postmarked no later than Feb. 11. Ballot drop boxes are open until 8 p.m. Tuesday at the following locations: Ferndale City Hall, 2095 Main St.; Lynden Public Library, 216 4th St.; the south parking lot at the county courthouse on Grand Avenue; and the Auditor's Office, 311 Grand Ave., Suite 103, Bellingham.

Reach James Kozanitis at 360-715-2249 or james.kozanitis@bellinghamherald.com.

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