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News / Clark County News

Backers of Washougal schools bond measure to rally Jan. 29

By Justin Runquist, Columbian Small Cities Reporter
Published: January 19, 2015, 4:00pm

Backers of a multimillion-dollar bond measure to improve several schools in Washougal will hold a rally next week at the campus where most of the money would be spent.

Proponents plan to gather at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 29 at Jemtegaard Middle School to drum up support for the $57.6 million funding package that will go before voters in a special election next month. The district wants to spend about $47 million of that on replacing Jemtegaard with a new middle school and building an additional elementary school next door.

The rest of the money would be used to improve security on a number of campuses, build a new bus storage facility next to the district headquarters and replace Excelsior, Washougal’s small alternative high school. Administrators say the money also addresses the need for more space to keep up with growing enrollment as some of Washougal’s aging campuses are already operating beyond capacity.

This year, the district has 14 portables with 27 portable classrooms. That presents a number of challenges in communicating a lockdown situation to students and keeping them out of harm’s way, administrators say.

The new middle school will be designed for 600 students, and the elementary school would house up to 400. Capacity at Excelsior would expand from about 70 to 90 students.

The bond measure, listed on the ballot as Proposition 5, needs at least 60 percent approval from voters to pass. Ballots will be delivered to registered voters in the district’s boundaries around the end of this week, and they must be postmarked by Feb. 10, the day of the election.

In 2008, voters rejected a similar $55 million bond measure that also would have replaced Jemtegaard. This time, district administrators are more confident of the bond’s chances.

District spokeswoman Rene Carroll says proponents are running a more aggressive campaign this time. Carroll chairs the campaign team this year.

“This campaign is all about educating our local voters to the critical needs this bond addresses and the value of doing the improvements now before interest rates and construction costs rise,” Carroll said in a press release.

Starting on Saturday, she and other supporters will spend a week campaigning door-to-door throughout the city. For those interested in attending the rally, Jemtegaard is at 35300 S.E. Evergreen Highway in Washougal.

The district will also host a tour of the campuses on Friday. Spots for attendees are limited, so reservations are required.

The tour begins at 11 a.m. at the district office, located at 4855 Evergreen Way. To reserve a spot, call Superintendent Dawn Tarzian’s assistant, Cassi Marshall, at 360-954-3005.

Columbian Small Cities Reporter