Thursday, August 13, 2020
Aug. 13, 2020

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Ridgefield School District gives bond measure another go

Much larger version defeated by voters in February

By , Columbian Education Reporter
Published:

Voters in the Ridgefield School District have another chance to weigh in on funding for new school construction.

The 3,500-student north Clark County school district is running a $40.5 million school bond on the Aug. 4 ballot. If approved, the bond would cover the cost of building a new elementary school, as well as planning and a land purchase for future campuses.

The district ran a much larger version of the bond in February, valued $107 million and featuring more projects. That bond lost with 59.15 percent support, with about 65 votes fewer than needed to pass. School bonds in Washington must pass with a margin of 60 percent plus one vote approval.

“COVID-19 been another reminder of why spaces matter,” Superintendent Nathan McCann said. “Newer spaces are more efficient, they’re cleaner, it’s got some modern technology working in your favor.”

The district says it would also be eligible for another $12.3 million in state assistance if the measure is approved.

The bond is estimated to cost taxpayers 32 cents per $1,000 in assessed property value. That means a homeowner whose property is valued at $300,000 could expect to pay $96 a year in additional property taxes.

District officials are optimistic the smaller price tag will convince the few dozen voters needed to secure a victory in the upcoming election.

“A large majority of our community is for this,” school board president Joe Vance said. “It addresses just the things that are the most urgent, and we’re hopeful that will be enough to get us that little less than a percent that we need.”

The bond, if approved, will build a new elementary school in the Claiborne Acres section of the city, south of Northeast 279th Street and east of North 65th Avenue. The school will serve students in kindergarten through sixth grade, unlike the school’s typical elementary school progression of kindergarten through fourth grade.

McCann said the school will temporarily relieve overcrowding at the district’s intermediate schools as officials prepare a future bond project including additional campuses. Officials estimate an additional 1,760 students will enter the district by 2023-2024, with additional growth anticipated as development begins at the 179th Street/Interstate 5 interchange.

The bond will also cover the cost of playground equipment at existing elementary schools. The district is also eyeing land purchases and design for a future intermediate and middle schools campus, as well as a high school expansion.

McCann acknowledged the difficulty of approving a new tax in the midst of an economic downturn, but he said he anticipates growth.

“There are folks that will continue to move to Ridgefield,” he said. “They’ll recognize, even though it’s difficult … there will be a life beyond COVID.”

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