Franklin Pierce School Board votes to place $157M bond measure on November ballot
TACOMA, WASHINGTON (9 March 2016) At their regular meeting held March 8, the Franklin Pierce School Board of Directors unanimously voted to place a $157 million bond measure on the November General Election ballot.
The bond measure proposal is consistent with recommendations made to the Board in May 2015 by a committee of community stakeholders called FPS 2030. FPS 2030 began meeting in 2010 to make ongoing recommendations to the School Board about school facility funding priorities. If approved by voters, the bond measure will replace five of the district’s eight aging elementary schools; make safety and security enhancements to every school in the district; construct science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) labs at the district’s two comprehensive high schools, Franklin Pierce High School (FPHS) and Washington High School (WHS); replace the decaying gymnasium at Ford Middle School; build a performing arts center at Franklin Pierce High School which serves 1,200 students (WHS already has one, but not FPHS); and several other projects throughout the district. “Every school in our 8,000-student district will benefit from this bond measure. This funding proposal is focused on the basics: providing safe, secure, and educationally-supportive facilities in which our teachers teach and students learn,” said School Board President Cole Roberts.
The School Board was sensitive to the bond measure’s tax implications. The annual tax rates, as estimated by municipal finance firm Piper Jaffray, won’t exceed what property owners have paid each year since 2013. The reason is because two prior facility funding measures – the 20-year 1998 bond and the 5-year 2012 capital levy – will be fully paid off at the time the new bond would take effect. “We know that many families can’t afford to pay more, so it was important that this measure be cost-neutral,” said Melanie Morgan, the district’s newest Board Member, elected fall of 2015.
The average age of schools in the Franklin Pierce district is 60 years. “Take, for example, Collins Elementary, one of the schools slated for replacement, which was built in 1935. Assuming that it has served an average of 375 students per year since then, it has served over 30,000 students in its lifetime. We also take into consideration that all the community’s schools built before 1980 were never designed with today’s technology, security concerns, air quality standards, and energy efficiency in mind. Collins is old and beyond long-term repair and desperately needs to be rebuilt,” said Robin Heinrichs, Executive Director of Support Services, who is in charge of the district’s facilities. “We’ve taken great care to keep our old schools in good condition for their age, but there comes a time when they’ve exceeded their useable life. The five elementary schools to be rebuilt if the bond passes – Central Avenue (1927), Collins (1935), James Sales (1953), Harvard (1955), and Brookdale (1957) – have all exceeded their useable life,” said Heinrichs.