On a usual winter day at Airport Heights Elementary, lunch is served inside classrooms, and everyone in the decades-old building bundles up in several layers.
“We can have classrooms that will get down to 55 degrees in the wintertime, depending on which way the wind is blowing,” said Principal Mike Webb.
The school was constructed in 1954 and last repaired in a significant way in 1987, which is the reason for countless many facility problems that have propelled the building to the Anchorage School District’s top priority for repairs.
Proposition 1 on the April 1 citywide ballot would allow the municipality to sell $57 million of bonds, including $24 million to renovate Airport Heights, with the remainder going to renovation efforts and upgrades at 18 other schools around the district.
The big numbers are worth the price tag if you ask Webb.
“We hear about complaints in education about really being ‘Cadillac schools,’” Webb said. “We make use of every nook and cranny we have in this building, and really what we are asking for is just something that will be efficient for learning.”
ASD Superintendent Ed Graff said a funding match by the state would make the deal a relative bargain for taxpayers.
“We feel like this is a great opportunity for us to continue with their support to address the needs within the district and to keep our funds focused on the classroom as opposed to the facilities,” Graff said.
State lawmakers annually reimburse bond debt held by local governments, like the Municipality of Anchorage. The state has taken on between 60 and 70 percent of the bill in recent years.
Without state help the bond proposal would cost the average Anchorage homeowner $13.86. That drops to about $5 if the state reimburses at a similar rate to what it has in years past.
The exact cost to taxpayers is difficult to estimate, as lawmakers annually approve the rate of reimbursement, and bonds are generally issued for 30 years.