On Nov. 7, 2017, Longview voters will be asked to consider a $121.6 bond to replace or renovate four buildings that serve the youngest learners. In addition the request includes support for security cameras, locks, lighting and other security improvements in the district. The proposal was crafted after nearly two years of committee recommendations, expert reports, public input, and board deliberations.
In brief, the proposal would–
- Replace Mint Valley, Northlake, and Olympic elementary schools on their existing campuses;
- Renovate the Broadway Preschool Center which houses special education preschool and the district’s partnership with HeadStart classes; and
- Make safety and security improvements at various schools throughout the district.
This page will be updated regularly with additional information and answers.
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Answers to frequently asked questions. We will continue to update this site with additional questions. If you have a question, please contact us.
The cost will be .96 for every $1,000 assessed property value. For example, the owner of a typical Longview home, valued at $200,000, would pay $192 a year, or $16 per month, for the bond.
While a number of the district’s aging buildings have worn systems, Mint Valley, Northlake, and Olympic elementary schools rated poor for both building condition and its functionality for teaching and learning on a state ranking system. A committee of school staff members and community representatives spent nearly two years researching, studying, and prioritizing the district’s facilities needs in a long-range plan.
School districts sell bonds as IOUs, of sorts, to raise money to build schools. The bonds must be paid back, along with interest, according to a set schedule. The bonds can only be sold if they can be repaid. The money to pay the bonds back comes from taxes. Voters must approve establishing these taxes by a super-majority of more than 60% yes votes.
Many times the cost to renovate an aging building and bring all of the essential systems up to current building codes nearly meets the cost to create a new building with effective school design and technology to help promote teaching and learning, preserve safety and complement the neighborhood. Electrical systems designed generations ago, are often inadequate for today’s technology.
No. The community must vote to go ahead with the proposal. According to state law, more than 60% of the voters must vote “yes” for the projects to be approved.
New buildings can be constructed on both the Mint Valley and Northlake campuses while students use those buildings. One building on each site would then be available to house students from Olympic and Broadway. The existing Olympic building would need to be razed to rebuild a new school, and students could not occupy Broadway while that renovation occurs. When Olympic and Broadway students return to their home schools, the old Mint Valley and Northlake buildings could be demolished.
Current estimates are the district could receive up to $4.65 million in state matching money, but this amount is not a certainty. If the money was received, it could be used for other building needs, used to offset higher-than-anticipated construction costs, or used to lower the bond debt.
Interest rates are as low as expected for the foreseeable future. The lower the interest rate, the less it will cost to borrow the construction money.
Schools are required to use taxpayers’ money as wisely as possible and award the work to the lowest qualified company that submitted a bid. However, it is expected that local companies would be involved in some way–as the general contractor, as subcontractors or as supply vendors.
Yes. Spaces in which students could eat meals and have a variety of other activities would be included in the design of the new schools. The Facilities Advisory Committee ranked spaces for eating as a high priority for all elementary schools.
Mint Valley and Northlake students could stay in their own buildings while the new school was built elsewhere on their campuses. Broadway and Olympic students would need to use buildings on the Mint Valley and Northlake sites after the new construction on those sites was done. When projects at Broadway and Olympic were completed, students would return to their home schools.
It would take approximately three years to complete all the projects.
The features of greatest need would be identified from throughout the district including security cameras, panic alarm systems, locks and door systems, radio communications, and security lighting. Specifics would be developed by a working group and security and engineering experts.
The site plan for Northlake preserves the existing orchard and garden area and ensures a strong and continuing partnership with Lower Columbia School Gardens.
The district has a number of needs and the recommendation was to focus on the immediate needs of elementary schools.
This remains to be determined.
Yes. The schools would have outside spaces for students to burn off energies and get fresh air.
Broadway was one of the schools ranked poor for its structural condition and it’s function as a learning environment. It houses state-required special education preschool programs and fosters a strong partnership with area HeadsStart Programs which also share the space. This plan preserves that partnership.
Renovating the critical building systems–heating/cooling/ventilation, electrical, plumbing, roof was determined to be an investment that would allow the district’s special education preschool and the area’s HeadStart program to continue its strong partnership under one roof.
The new facilities will have modern heating, cooling, and ventilation systems.
Yes, a total of 15 portable classrooms would be eliminated under this plan.
Olympic Elementary School is 67 years old, Northlake is 64 years old, and Mint Valley is 48 years old.The buildings have been taken care of, but were not built for technology or for the safety issues facing today’s schools. Mechanical systems are worn–they have an average life of less than 30 years–and they aren’t designed for today’s teaching and learning.
The bond payoff period is 21 years.
After it addresses the district’s most urgent needs at the elementary schools, the district is committed to considering the future of Mark Morris and R. A. Long.
Low income senior citizens and disable adults may qualify for tax exemptions. Information is available from the Cowlitz County Auditor.
The district refinances building bonds whenever it it will save taxpayers money. Most recently in August 2016, the district saved taxpayers $1.3 million by re-issuing existing bonds at a lower interest rate. Previous refinancing of bonds yielded a $900,000 savings in 2011, a $440,818 savings in 2007, a $1.3 million savings in 2006, a $900,000 savings in 2004, and an approximate $400,000 savings in 2003.
The community approved a bond sale in 2001. That bond was used to build Mt. Solo Middle School, renovate the other two middle schools and restore R. A. Long High School’s roof. Prior to that, bonds were sold in 1996 to rebuild St. Helens and Robert Gray elementary schools.
The district has, and continues to, undertake major maintenance of its buildings to preserve their lives and keep them in shape for student and community use. Since 2010, the district has invested an average of $1.46 million each year to maintain thousands of classrooms; numerous heating, plumbing and electrical systems; and acres of roofs for a total of approximately $9.63 million in the past eight years. In addition, the district invested more than $2 million in 2013-2014 to improve Kessler Elementary School using state matching money and bond receipts from the 2001 bond sales for middle school improvements.
Among other things, the Facilities Advisory Commmittee (FAC) listed elementary schools as a priority and the need to phase out the use of portable classrooms. Student and staff safety and security was listed as a paramount concern and the FAC listed the importance of having schools that provide students with a 21st century learning experience. Lunch rooms should be included in new construction, according to the recommendation, and the the district should pursue discussions on the future of the two high schools after work on the elementary schools is underway.The FAC–composed of community representatives and staff members–worked approximately two years to draft recommendations as part of the Facility Master Plan. The recommendations followed a series of community listening sessions and staff and community surveys. In addition, the board received reports and/or conducted study sessions throughout 2014, 2015, and 2016 regarding the facilities master plan. The plan was officially adopted on May 8, 2017.