Woodland school bond issue passes

Measure will provide $52.8M for new high school, other updates

By Tom Vogt, Columbian science, military & history reporter

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Voters approved a bond issue Tuesday that will build a new Woodland High School and provide a few other updates around the district.

The measure passed with 1,638 “yes” votes to 945 “no” votes. That’s 63.4 percent, well ahead of the 60-percent figure required to pass.

The bond issue will provide $52.8 million; the district also will receive $11 million from the state.

Most of the money will go to replace the current high school, which was built in 1953. The new 147,000-square-foot high school will be built on a 40-acre site the district owns on Dike Access Road.

Discussions will begin in a few days, Superintendent Michael Green said.

“The first step is Friday when we meet with the architects,” Green said after election results were announced Tuesday night. “We’ll figure out short-term and long-term” plans.

About 600 students attend Woodland High. The 82,310-square-foot school doesn’t have room in the gym for all its students and faculty, let alone students’ parents.

The school does not have a centralized entrance point for visitors, raising safety concerns.

Construction will start in the summer of 2013 or, more likely, the summer of 2014; the anticipated opening would be in the fall of 2015 or fall of 2016, Green said.

The high school will be built to accommodate an expanding student body.

The bond issue will provide about $2.7 million for other projects: It will pay for a new gym at Yale Elementary School, replacing the oldest building owned by the district. The bond measure also will pay for other safety, security and energy efficiency improvements at all the district’s schools.

The bond measure will be repaid over a 25-year span. District residents will pay 96 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, or $192 a year for the owner of a $200,000 home.

It’s a good time to undertake a project, Green said. “The costs of both borrowing money and construction are very low.”

Once a new high school is built, the old building will be used for younger students. The district will be able to eliminate 22 portable classrooms.