Ridgefield School District preps for Phase III bond election

February 2019 likely target date for next bond issue to go before voters

By Adam Littman, Columbian Staff Writer

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Voters in the Ridgefield School District passed a $78 million bond in February, and district officials are already gearing up for its next anticipated bond vote, most likely coming in February 2019.

The district recently sent out an announcement seeking applicants for its Capital Facilities Advisory Committee, which will study, analyze and make capital facility recommendations to the district’s board. The February 2019 bond issue would most likely be used to build a new K-4 school and for additional expansions at Ridgefield High School, Superintendent Nathan McCann said.

Expansions at the high school were also included in the bond issue voted on this year, which passed with nearly 69 percent of the vote. The rest of the money is going toward a new 5-8 campus, security improvements, repurposing View Ridge Middle School and collaborating with the city to build the Ridgefield Outdoor Recreation Complex.

The February 2019 bond issue represents Phase III in the district’s four-phase plan to deal with growth. The first phase was the 2012 bond issue, which allowed the district to add classrooms and services to the high school, Union Ridge Elementary School and South Ridge Elementary School. Phase II was the bond issue from this year, and Phase IV would allow for the district to increase K-12 capacity by possibly building a new K-4 school, 5-6 and 7-8 buildings and a small specialty or alternative high school.

McCann said he’s optimistic about the possibility of the 2019 bond vote.

“We’re grateful for the continuing support of the Ridgefield community and their knowledge that the schools are the No. 1 reason people move to Ridgefield, and they’re moving in droves,” he said.

The district has a bit less than 3,000 students at the moment, McCann said, adding that due to construction in the district, there could be a double-digit percentage increase in enrollment next school year. He said Ridgefield could see 300 to 400 new students join the district for the 2018-2019 school year.

The district’s conservative estimate is that it will have around 7,200 students by 2035.

Even with talk of building so many new schools, McCann said plans for the future need to be flexible so the district isn’t overbuilding.

“These are bonds of need,” he said. “I’m a Ridgefield resident and taxpayer, as well. We’re not going to ask for something that’s not a need.”

The committee will work until March or April to come up with a plan for increase K-4 capacity and 9-12 capacity. They will then make recommendations to the board, which could include a new K-4 school, additions at current sites, expansion at the high school and/or a small specialty or alternate high school.

The board will decide on whether to put a bond issue up for public vote sometime around November.

Committee members will plan and host community open houses and outreach activities and review proposed concepts for Phase III and recommend a preferred concept for the 2019 bond election. McCann said there were about 30 members of the committee in the lead-up to the February 2017 bond vote, and the committee is made up of district staff, teachers, business partners, students and community members.

Those interested in serving on the committee can sign up by calling 360-619-1302 or emailing McCann at nathan.mccann@ridgefieldsd.org.

The first meeting is from 6 to 8 p.m. on Dec. 13 in Room 311 at Ridgefield High School, 2630 S. Hillhurst Road, Ridgefield.