Cheney voting on $15.4 million bond issue for school district

06/05/2014 2:15 PM

06/05/2014 2:16 PM

Cheney residents are voting on a $15.4 million bond issue for maintenance and improvements for the school district’s elementary, middle and high school.

The election is set for Tuesday, although advanced voting has begun.

The bond would be used for safety and security additions, replacement of failing infrastructure and improvements to academic and athletic facilities, according to the USD 268 website. The projects include technology upgrades for classrooms, a new multiple-use baseball complex and the construction of tornado shelters. About $570,000 would be spent on maintenance.

The vote comes as the school district faces an expiring bond put in place for older projects, like the construction of the high school in 1994. The school board unanimously voted for the new bond in April after gathering feedback from the staff and community and through a survey conducted by an independent firm.

The board then pared the information down to focus on projects that are most important to students or must be completed due to obsolescence, District Superintendent David Grover said.

“Many of the items the money will go toward are 20 to 25 years old and need to be replaced,” he said. “The chiller we use for air conditioning in the high school costs about $500,000, and we just don’t have the reserves for it. The football stadium has lighting that’s so old they don’t make replacement parts for it anymore.”

The bond will also provide for upgrades that will make the 800-student school district more innovative, he said.

“If you go around and look at other school buildings, the classroom today doesn’t look like it does when I attended school,” Grover said. “We need to make classrooms college and career ready.”

The bond will result in an increase of about $83 per year in property taxes, or about $7 a month, for a $100,000 home, according to Cheney school district officials. If the bond is not passed, officials said there will be about $5 million worth of end of life and infrastructure projects to be addressed.

The district has faced some opposition to the bond, but Cheney’s community of more than 2,000 residents is supportive of education, Grover said.

“The bottom line is that we’re asking for taxpayer dollars, so to say that everybody’s in favor of it would be a disservice,” he said. “Overall, this community is so supportive of education. It’s unlike anywhere I’ve lived before.”

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