Anchorage School Bonds Set at $59 Million

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by Russ Slaten

Anchorage area voters are making their way to the polls next Tuesday (April 3rd), and the Anchorage School District's bond proposal is only one item on the ballot.

The Anchorage School District proposed a single bond package that benefits about 40 schools districtwide with a price tag of $59 million to Anchorage taxpayers.

First on the list is career and technical education improvements, making up $23.8 million of the total $59 million proposal. The CTE improvements will develop or enhance programs within 13 middle and high schools. About $15 million of the improvement funds will be used to construct a new program in the West High/Romig Middle School joint campus.

Also in the mix is a $9.1 million scaled-back improvement to Service High, after last year's bond proposal did not pass.

Another portion of the $59 million school bond goes to 'building life extension projects.' $23.8 million for the projects will affect 30 schools districtwide. It includes fire alarm upgrades, roof replacements and mechanical and lighting upgrades.

Finally, $2.4 million is designated for a plan and design remodel of the Girdwood K-8 School.

District officials say the bond is necessary in keeping a large district like Anchorage's in shape, and to prevent taking money out of the classroom.

Officials say the Anchorage School District struggles with debt, but the state matching-funds, through reimbursement, helps battle that.

"The state agrees to reimburse between 60 and 70 percent of the costs of these bonds. There's a state program that's been in place. It's been very successful for almost 30 years now, and it really helps us offset the cost of debt for projects like this," said ASD Assistant Superintendent Michael Abbott.

The Service High project will not see a reimbursement, but rather a $21 million grant from the state.

Homeowners with property in the $300,000 range will see about a $20 a year increase in property taxes if this bond is passed.