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Survey planned for school bond

The Bainbridge Island School District wants to know what kind of bond package voters are prepared to support next February.

A scientific survey of nearly 400 voters later this month will plumb island attitudes toward a proposed $40 million bond for facility repair and renovation. A bond that size would cost islanders with a $400,000 home $257 per year for 20 years.

“The board has not made a decision about the specific amount of the bond,” said Faith Chapel, assistant superintendent, “but they wanted to provide some type of estimate of what the cost of the bond might be.

“After having seen the architectural renderings and getting some cost estimates, it became apparent that there are a range of possibilities.”

The board sampled some of those possibilities with the presentation of design concepts earlier this month. Ideas ranged from a new “student street” running through the BHS/Commodore campus to a “grand lawn” as the central focal point of the high school.

Whichever final design gets the nod, the focus will be the high school. The campus last saw renovations and improvements with the passage of a $26.8 million measure in 1997 that paid for a new gym and 300 Building, as well as construction of Sakai Intermediate School.

Eyed for replacement are the BHS 200 Building – which houses the main office and library – the 100 Building and the older parts of the 300 and 500 buildings that include classrooms, and the old gymnasium. Those buildings are over 30 years old, the state’s recommended threshold for renovation or replacement.

High-priority areas include the so-called “core” spaces like the student commons, a space built for 900 students where 1,350 now eat lunch and the Large Group Instruction Room, the 250-seat auditorium and stage that could be replaced by a 600-seat auditorium.

In addition, the bond could pay for a new synthetic surface for the BHS football field; and upgrade the 100 Building’s classroom dedicated to special education, computer and vocational training; shop and art classes.

About $500,000 would be dedicated to high-priority maintenance at the elementary schools.

Since being formed last fall, the building committee, headed by Superintendent Ken Crawford and Clif McKenzie, reviewed a recent facilities audit; conducted walk-through inspections if schools; considered an engineering firm’s presentation of building options; and viewed building concepts by three architectural firms, Bassetti Architects, DLR Group and BLRB, the firm that designed the 1997 improvements.

The next pieces in the process of board and public education – the scientific telephone survey drafted by Hardwick Research at a cost of $13,000 – will be conducted from Aug. 23 through Sept. 10.

Then, over the next two months, island voters will have several opportunities to join the conversation – first in an online poll featuring the questions from a telephone survey Sept. 13-17, followed by three public focus-groups.

“The process is designed to have a variety of opportunities for public input,” Chapel said, “and we certainly encourage all citizens to participate, because the contents of this bond is going to mean a great deal to the school districts.”

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