Voters in the Ridgefield School District will consider another school bond in February, a year after the district’s $77 million bond measure fell short of the required 60 percent plus one vote supermajority.
The bond for the Feb. 11 election will be a bit different, though: The district is now asking for $107 million. The school board voted unanimously at its meeting Tuesday night to put the measure on the February ballot.
Ridgefield has seen rapid growth in recent years, and that’s not expected to slow down in the near future. The district’s growth predictions show Ridgefield will grow by roughly 1,760 students by the 2023-2024 school year, a 55 percent increase.
The bond would pay for a new K-4 elementary school, a new 5-6 intermediate school, construction of inclusive playgrounds at South Ridge and Union Ridge elementary schools and expansion at Ridgefield High School, including building a new vocational building and repurposing the aging part of the facility for storage and warehouse space.
In 2018, the district purchased 27 acres that will likely be used for a new elementary school in the Claiborne Acres section of the city, south of Northeast 279th Street and east of North 65th Avenue. Ridgefield Superintendent Nathan McCann said recently that Clark County’s proposed development north of Vancouver near the 179th Street/Interstate 5 interchange could bring even more families into district limits.
The proposed intermediate school would be the first phase of building another 5-8 campus with connected schools, like Ridgefield did with the new View Ridge Middle School and Sunset Ridge Intermediate School. The 7-8 portion wouldn’t be built with the proceeds of this bond — it would come later.
McCann said the district is eyeing land on the southern part of the district boundary near that development around 179th for the new 5-8 campus.
The View Ridge-Sunset Ridge campus opened for the start of the 2018-2019 school year. This year, the campus is already at capacity and has two portable buildings, each of which has two classrooms. The campus will most likely need more portables for next school year, McCann said recently.
If the bond doesn’t pass, the district will need an estimated 57 portable buildings — 114 classrooms — to house all of the projected students. The district will have to pass a bond to buy land specifically to house portables.