ASD releases 2020 School Bond Proposal, prioritizes earthquake-related repairs

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The vast majority of funding included in the Anchorage School District's 2020 School Bond Proposal would go towards earthquake-related projects, according to ASD.

$73.18 million of a total proposal of $79.78 million would go towards "earthquake recovery."

$26.92 million would fund planning, design and construction on 12 different schools. These earthquake recovery bonds would fund damage repairs, seismic upgrades and building improvements.

$46.25 million -- over half of the total bond proposal -- would fund repairs and seismic upgrades to get Eagle River Elementary and Gruening Middle schools back online after being red-tagged as unsafe to occupy since the earthquake on Nov. 30, 2018. ASD has decided to make repairs and upgrades to the existing structures, rather than rebuild from scratch.

$3.34 million would fund the design for demolition and new construction of Inlet View Elementary. That leaves $3.25 million for deferred maintenance projects.

ASD's Capital Improvement Advisory Committee confirms the district has an $80 million backlog of deferred maintenance projects. Many schools have gone years without repairs; some are hanging on by a thread, with leaking roofs and faulty boilers.

The proposed bond excludes any form of state contribution. ASD Chief Operating Officer Tom Roth says the district does not expect the Dunleavy Administration to match school bonds into the future. This leaves ASD with little funding options for maintenance on existing facilities.

Historically, the state has pitched in 70% for bond debt reimbursement to fund deferred maintenance projects.That contribution would bring costs down to $56 million, a more manageable number that would be paid for significantly through taxpayer dollars. ASD says spending to maintain existing facilities is much cheaper than having to demolish and rebuild, but this is just not feasible under the current administration.

"Permanently eliminating school bond debt reimbursement leaves ASD, and other districts in the state, with no viable means of funding deferred maintenance capital projects," the CIAC wrote in a July letter to ASD.

Roth says without state contributions, what the district can't fund on its own would have to be shouldered by the taxpayer. According to the 2020 bond proposition, the mil levy to pay the bonds would be $17.74 per $100,000 of assessed property value.

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