In August the Richland School Board approved a resolution to place a $98 million bond issue before Richland School District voters on Feb. 12, 2013.
The bond would be used strictly for eight specific facility improvement projects, said Steve Aagaard, RSD communications officer. The total cost for the eight projects is expected to reach $130 million, but the District expects to receive $32 million in state assistance funds, leaving $98 million that must come from local taxpayers.
The project list includes: $21 million to replace Lewis & Clark Elementary School; $21 million to replace Marcus Whitman Elementary School; $21 million to replace Sacajawea Elementary School; $21 million to build a new elementary school in south Richland; $33 million to build a new middle school in the south/west area of the district; $5 million to remodel and repurpose Jefferson Elementary School to use it for HomeLink; $6 million to replace the HVAC system at Chief Joseph Middle School; and $2 million to make safety improvements at Fran Rish Stadium.
The Lewis & Clark, Marcus Whitman and Sacajawea elementary schools were all built in 1971. Aagaard said continued population growth in the south and west areas of the District means more student demand in that area.
In addition, give elementary schools are no longer needed in the central core of Richland, which is why Jefferson can be repurposed and used for the HomeLink program, which is growing.
School officials also said the current HVAC system at Chief Joseph Middle School is inefficient and can no longer be repaired.
“We’ve studied these projects and analyzed potential costs for months and received excellent input from the community,” said Rick Jansons, president of the Richland School Board. “We’ve done some cutting in order to minimize the impact to local taxpayers.”
Jansons also said the financing plan keeps the tax rate as low as possible.
The Richland School District’s current bond tax rate is $1.21 per $1,000 of assessed value. If votes were to approve the bond, the estimated tax rate would increase 34 cents to $1.55 in 2013. Yearly property taxes would increase $68 on a $200,000 home. The rate would fall to $1.19 in 2023. The bond debt for these new projects would expire in 2029.