The Hoquiam School District is seeking a $6.8 million bond to modernize and renovate Lincoln Elementary School and replace the shake roof at the high school, according to superintendent Mike Villarreal.
The building bond resolution was passed by the school board in mid-July. The bond request will appear on Hoquiam School District voters’ general election ballots, which will be mailed out in mid-October and are due by Nov. 6.
Hoquiam High School was built in 1968, Lincoln Elementary in 1971. A building condition study in 2009 gave both an “overall poor rating.”
The cedar shakes on the high school roof have been worn thin by decades of Grays Harbor wet, windy weather. Villarreal said the heads of the nails through the shakes have rotted away, and winds can blow the shakes right off the roof. Many of the shakes are cupping, split or cracked, and outright missing in several spots, exposing the wood stripping and open canopy below to the elements.
Villarreal said the district is exploring different types of roofing materials to replace the high school roof to see which would be the better choice. The roof project is just phase one, he said, adding that more work may be needed that won’t be visible until the roof repairs have begun.
Villarreal indicated “comprehensive renovations” are needed at Lincoln Elementary. Work will include provisions for accessibility, doors and windows, asbestos abatement, mechanical and lighting controls, electrical and plumbing upgrades and fire capabilities.
The timing was right, said Villarreal, to pursue this bond this year. The current Hoquiam middle school bond will be paid off at the end of the year.
The proposal is for a 6-year bond. If passed, property tax rates in the district will drop from $5.81 to $3.66 per $1,000 of assessed value in 2019, according to the Hoquiam Kids First Committee, which proposed the bond request. As Villarreal explained, the decline is due in part because the 83 cents tax per $1,000 collected for the middle school bond is expiring. And due to changes made by the Legislature in wake of the McCleary school funding decision, there is also a major reduction in the district’s Educational Programs and Operations Levy, from $5 to $1.49. The proposed bond would have a tax rate of $1.35 in 2019, raising to $2.18 the remaining five years; the total combined tax rates from 2019-2024 would remain at $3.67.
Villarreal said if the bond passes it opens the potential for state matching funds of more than $5 million. He noted the district’s long history of passing school levies and bonds; a Piper Jaffray study shows in fact every levy between 1988 and the most recent one in 2016 has received the more than the 60 percent approval needed to pass.