BLAINE - Blaine School District is mulling a $45 million bond to update and rebuild its high school and make room as the district switches to full-time kindergarten classes.
The Blaine School Board will vote on whether to put the bond on the February ballot at its next meeting, Monday, Aug. 25.
If the board moves it forward, this will be the fourth time in the past six years that a bond to fix the high school has gone before voters.
In 2008, the district put out a $40 million bond to remodel and rebuild the high school and received 57 percent approval, just short of the required 60 percent to pass. The district came back with a narrowed $32 million bond in 2011 that got about 59 percent approval.
The next year, the district had a small victory as voters passed a dramatically reduced $3 million bond to update the high school's science facility.
"What we heard consistently throughout prior attempts was it just wasn't the right time with the economy," Superintendent Ron Spanjer said. "The economic challenges were barriers, understandably, to what people felt we could afford to do."
Spanjer hopes that with the economy recovering, this time around the bond will get more than 60 percent approval. If passed, it would go into effect when the district's other bonds are expiring, so taxpayers shouldn't see an increase in their taxes.
"We've waited now to bring it back at a time when the other bond obligations are rolling off," Spanjer said. "We're working really hard to keep the tax collection level stable."
The biggest project in the bond would update the high school, at an estimated cost of nearly $38 million. The first phase would be a new two-story, 80,000-square-foot building to be constructed in the mostly empty space between the stadium and the high school. Some parts of the current school would be razed, some would be remodeled and some of the more recent updates would remain.
The high school - portions of which date back to 1971 - was originally designed to accommodate about 450 students, Spanjer said, and it now houses anywhere from 600 to more than 700. As a result, the high school shares some spaces with the middle school, including a cafeteria and some classrooms. Students have to walk across the middle school campus to get to vocational classes.
With its modular design, the high school has about 50 access points, which isn't ideal for safety.
"This is a long-standing discussion in our community," Spanjer said. "From 2008 to the present, we have not had people say the high school doesn't need to be fixed or it doesn't need to be improved upon. The consensus in the community is the need is there. It's a very antiquated high school."
Other items in the bond include:
-- $4 million to add an eight-classroom pod to the northwest end of the primary school that would accommodate the district's expansion from part-time to full-time kindergarten in the upcoming years.
-- About $900,000 for security upgrades, including a campus-wide emergency communication system; electronic door locks for the primary, elementary and middle schools; cameras; seismic upgrades and intercoms.
-- About $212,000 to add overhead doors to a primary school covered play area to make it more versatile.
-- About $536,000 to remodel the north end of the elementary school.
-- Capital maintenance projects such as roof replacements, carpeting, paving and upgrading a playground.