“If you do what you have always done, you will get what you already have,” a quote by Anthony Robbins, inspirational education speaker. We, as a School Board, are faced with the dilemma of asking for another band-aid approach to fixing our buildings, some of which are unfixable, or reaching for the next level.
The district administration is in the process of gathering information for an upcoming Capital Bond proposal that, if approved by the school board, would go before the voters in a special election in April. This proposed bond would replace the capital levy, approved by voters after the failure of a bond in 2009. That levy expires this calendar year and has helped with immediate repair needs for replacing boilers, adding portable classrooms, security systems, connecting to the Belfair sewer, replacing/retrofitting plumbing fixtures and more. Most of the work was done by local contractors, keeping your tax dollars circulating locally. The fact is that even aggressive maintenance cannot prevent the need for eventual replacement of aging school equipment and structures. The following is an example of facility issues that must be addressed.
· The roofs in every school have exceeded their life expectancy.
· North Mason High School was built for 420 students in 1983. We now have 775 high school students and we need more room. We are currently using nine portable classrooms and the stage while packing kids into an undersized cafeteria and gym. NMHS needs a remodeled/enlarged cafeteria, additional science classrooms, a remodeled auditorium, increased PE and sports space, additional parking, additional athletic fields, and additional classrooms.
· The NMHS track is delaminating, and needs to be resurfaced.
· Sand Hill still doesn’t have a covered foul-weather exercise and play area.
· We have replaced nearly every boiler and HVAC mechanical system through our capital levy and the energy grants we obtained. We now have the individual heater/ventilators in each classroom at Hawkins and Belfair that need to be replaced, along with the final ancient boiler in the district – at Belfair.
· Bathroom fixtures throughout the district are so old we cannot find parts to repair them when they break down. We need to replace them.
As stated by my fellow director, Art Wightman, “the best news…that came out of (the presentation to the Board by Ray Mow, architect for Erickson McGovern) was cost projections for the whole project. The cost of building a new high school in past years has been astronomically high; this proposal takes advantage of both lower costs due to the economic downturn, lower costs due to innovative design characteristics, and lower costs due to our district qualifying for significant matches in state funding for our construction needs – possibly up to $10 million plus”.
The District has been a good steward of the financial support provided by our owners – that would be you! We are now faced with making the decision to reach higher and, if successful, solve many problems with our existing facilities. Our high school students would be in a new building that would be appropriate for their educational needs; our middle school students would move into the current high school which would be remodeled for their educational needs; Belfair Elementary would have a covered play area away from Highway 3; Sand Hill Elementary would get a covered play shed; all this and much more would be provided by this proposal. With the current capital levy expiring this year, this proposal will not have to drastically increase tax burdens for our community.
We simply cannot keep doing what we have always done. This bond proposal, if approved, will take North Mason School District to the next level and into the future.
The School Board will be making a decision about this bond proposal at their February 21st business meeting. Please contact any Board member or Superintendent David Peterson for more information. We value your input.
Make it a great day!