Ridgefield to discuss school facilities woes

District officials say they hope to convince voters to fund projects

By Ray Legendre, Columbian staff writer

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The Ridgefield School District will host a meeting Wednesday evening to discuss its school facilities and plans for improvements.

The district hosted a similar symposium in May to educate parents and receive comment about the problems facing its schools. Those troubles include severe overcrowding, portable buildings used as long-term classrooms and a lack of core facilities such as gyms and cafeterias.

Wednesday’s update will be at 7 p.m. at the Ridgefield Community Center, 210 N. Main Ave. All residents are invited to attend.

Holding explanatory meetings is important, Superintendent Art Edgerly said, because it shows residents why a bond is vital to pay for better facilities. Such a bond measure might go before voters during the 2011-12 school year.

“First of all, they’ll learn more about the projects we’re trying to do,” Edgerly said of Wednesday’s meeting. “Hopefully, they can see the purpose and support that in the future.”

Information discussed during the May schools symposium suggested improvements could cost between $39 million to $45  million. LSW Architects of Vancouver is close to completing a study to determine how much improvements would cost.

The district’s last remodeling project was 18 years ago. Residents have only passed two bond measures for school upgrades in the past 20 years.

School officials say they hope their new approach to put equal amounts of money into each school, rather than a lump sum into just one school, will motivate voters to pass a bond measure.

“The challenge for the board is adequately selling the project,” said Tevis Laspa with Citizens for Ridgefield Schools. “We’re trying to get the word out early.”

Ray Legendre: 360-735-4517; http://www.twitter.com/col_smallcities; http://www.facebook.com/raylegend; ray.legendre@columbian.com.