District officals make case for school bond approval

Published on Thu, Apr 26, 2001 by Soren Velice

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District officals make case for school bond approval

By Soren Velice

On May 15, citizens of Blaine will be asked whether or not the school district should get $19.7 million to build classrooms and add safety features.

Dolman said the bond is a chance for the community to invest in itself, as school facilities are widely used by people other than students and teachers. “The people here have built these buildings,” he said, “and they ought to be able to use them; they’re used for Whatcom Community College classes and adult literacy classes. Blaine Community Theater is using the P.A.C. For its production of the Foreigner, B.P.’s going to have a conference on oil production there and Richard Sturgill’s going to have the premier for his documentary on the Plover here.”

School officials want the bond to deal with overcrowding. “We need classrooms,” district superintendent Gordon Dolman said. “None of this is frills; we’re looking at fire protection, classrooms, heating and ventilation, seismic protection and energy conservation. We have waited to come to the community until it was absolutely necessary. These are needs now, and if we don’t pass the bond now, we’re going to have to come back later.”

Dolman predicts the bond will come cheap to homeowners. “We estimate it will cost 59 cents per thousand dollars of assessed value,” he said. “I predict it’ll go down even more; it works out to about $4.92 per month on a $100,000 home.” The cost is in addition to the 1992 levy.

The bond’s $1.7 million budget for the high school includes a new four-classroom pod, including two double-sized rooms for home and family life classes, a fire suppression system, library renovations and a new computer lab.

“We will not have enough room come September,” high school principal Dan Newell said. “We have to have classrooms, and we have to have them September first.” Students agree. “The school is overcrowded,” Colin Hawkins said. “We see it every day.” Currently, the middle school conducts three classes in high school rooms; the district’s plan rejects portable classrooms to assuage the problem. “If you invest in structures, they ought to stay here,” Dolman said.

He said classrooms for the middle school are already designed so that, if the bond succeeds, they could be open for the next school year.

The bond gives the gyms the biggest share of the budget, with $4.7 million in proposed upgrades. Locker rooms for the new gym, a fitness center and a new wrestling room top the list, with renovations to the old locker rooms, lighting, heating, ventilation and concessions stand rounding out the improvements.

At the middle school, $3 million would be spent on a band room renovation, heating and ventilation upgrades, and six new classrooms, while $600,000 will pay for renovations to the middle school gym’s heating and locker rooms, as well as seismic work and a new paint job.

Significant projects at the elementary school, slated for $2.3 million, include a remodeled kitchen, conversion of the covered play area into a glass-enclosed cafeteria, fire protection and four new classrooms.

Improvements to Blaine primary school total $3.4 million, including eight new classrooms, revised parking and heating and ventilation renovation in Blaine; Point Roberts Primary will get $690,000 for a covered play area, paving and a garage for its bus.

Also in the budget are additions to the Performing Arts Center’s sound system and additional seating along its back wall.

Last but not least in the budget are improvements to the vocational buildings, warehouse, bus garage and the district’s telecommunications system, currently running at a full load with no more room for expansion.

“In 1988, they told us we’d never have to expand it, but here we are,” Dolman said.

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