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Posted on Jan 21, 2016

School bond ballots out this week

Registered voters living within the Quincy School District boundaries will receive their school bond ballots soon.
The Grant County Elections Division planned to mail the ballots today, Jan. 21, to the 4,210 active registered voters in the district.
An elections spokeswoman said the “active” list includes those who have voted in the last two federal elections.
If mailing in your ballot, it must be returned to the elections office with a postmark no later than Feb. 9, the date of the special election. School district residents who have not registered to vote have until Feb. 1 to do so in person at the county courthouse, 35 C St. N.W. in Ephrata.
Ballots also can be dropped off at the courthouse or at the election drop-off box at the Quincy Public Library by the day of the election.
If passed, the $108 million bond measure would provide money to expand existing buildings and build a new Quincy High School. The current high school would be remodeled to serve as a middle school for grades six through eight.
Superintendent John Boyd has said a “wave” of new students is expected in coming years, making already crowded facilities even more inadequate.
Boyd noted that nearly a third of the district’s students are taught in portable classrooms. While that might suffice for class lessons, it doesn’t take into account the growing enrollment’s effect on hallway space, cafeteria accommodations and other factors that stay constant no matter how many new students arrive.
A total of 60 percent yes votes is needed to pass the bond. If it does pass, the cost to property owners residing within district boundaries would be $1.89 per $1,000 of assessed property value.
Bond proponents see that as a key selling point. The district’s last bond, passed in 1998 for $19.8 million, cost property owners $2.10 per $1,000 assessed valuation. The difference is because of the district’s valuation increase over the years, primarily from the construction of new data centers in Quincy.
A breakdown of costs shows that data centers are anticipated to pay 26 percent of the bond, according to figures from the school district. Citizens, farmers and other businesses would account for 66 percent of the cost while an 8 percent state match fills in the rest of the pie chart.
The bond provides improvements for every school in the district, which Boyd believes is another positive factor for voters.
Meanwhile, the bond money would allow a new grade-level configuration that educators say is more beneficial to children’s learning.
Five neighborhood grade schools would contain kindergarten through fifth grade, a middle school would house grades six through eight, and the new QHS would have grades nine through 12.
That setup would mean fewer changes of schools for the youngest students. Currently, Pioneer and Mountain View elementary schools have kindergarten through grade three, while George Elementary School is kindergarten through fourth grade and Monument Elementary School has grades four through six.
Mountain View counselor Bob Lamb says the new configuration would help that school’s staff with a cooperative project involving Washington State University. The goal is to help students develop self-control and overcome emotional obstacles that prevent them from reaching full academic potential.
The program could be even more successful than it currently is if students stayed at Mountain View another two years where they are familiar with the surroundings and staff, Lamb said.
During a presentation at last week’s school board meeting, board president Alex Ybarra emphasized that discussions leading to the bond proposal have gone on for several years.
The study included an $11,000 grant from the state of Washington that was used to study the condition of each building in the district. In addition, the reconfiguration discussion goes back to 2012.
Boyd said the district has commissioned some videos by a Seattle filmmaker to spread information about the bond. The videos will be put on the district’s website and on its Facebook page, which will be unveiled soon, he said.


— By Steve Kadel,

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