Experience Coupeville High

As students go through classes at Coupeville High School, they can find themselves ducking falling ceiling tiles or dealing with faltering bathroom facilities.

School district officials want the public to see the high school’s condition first hand to demonstrate the need for a new high school.

Superintendent Bill Myhr will take residents on a tour of the high school on Thursday, April 29, at 6:30 p.m. District officials hope that experience will help convince voters to approve a $22.8 million bond issue in the May 18 election. That money will fund the construction of a new high school and other school district improvements.

Coupeville Bond Committee Co-chair Suzanne Bond said the tour will give people an opportunity to see first-hand and close-up the conditions of the high school.

The 65-year-old high school is showing clear signs of its age. A net lines the ceiling in one of the gymnasiums to protect students from falling ceiling tiles.

However, nets aren’t everywhere and students dealt with falling ceiling tiles in other classrooms.

A previously unknown water leak caused three ceiling tiles to fall during a recent class, Myhr said. Fortunately, no one was injured and none of the nearby computer equipment was damaged from the leak.

The high school also has a roof that is prone to leaks, while students on a daily basis have to deal with the building’s faltering plumbing.

Myhr said that the last urinal in the boys restroom had to be removed earlier this year because of the poor plumbing system. There is a urinal in a boys locker room. Even though it still drains, it doesn’t flush and janitors have to clean it twice a day to control the odor, Myhr said.

He added that the majority of the water fountains in the school also don’t work.

If the bond is approved by voters, the new high school building will be built on the athletic fields behind the middle school.

Once the high school opens in 2006 or 2007, the current building, and two auxiliary buildings, will be demolished.

Officials had discussed renovating the current building, but that wasn’t considered cost effective due to the building’s major problems.

While the estimated $19 million high school constitutes the bulk of the bond money, officials have included other projects to upgrade other school district facilities.

Among those project are repairing the middle school flooring, installing security cameras in all schools and building a covered play area at the elementary school.

“We’re trying to have something that will take care of our needs for the next 15 to 20 years,” Myhr said.

The school district is already preparing to address immediate concerns that will be resolved if the bond passes.

The Coupeville School Board approved hiring a consultant to put together a bid package for repairing the roofs of the elementary school, multi-purpose room and gymnasium.

Officials hope that if the project goes out to bid after the bond election, it can be completed before the 2004-2005 school year begins.

At least 60 percent of the voters have to vote yes to approve the bond. For the election to be valid, at least 1,340 voters have to cast ballots. That number is based on 40 percent of the voters who live within the school district boundary and voted in the 2003 general election.

As school district residents tour the high school Thursday night, some may have already received their absentee ballots which were mailed Friday.

Island County Auditor Suzanne Sinclair said nearly two-thirds of the Coupeville votes cast in the last general election were absentee ballots.

To inform voters about the bond, Myhr has been speaking to community groups whenever possible.

He’s talked to groups such as the Coupeville Garden Club, the Central Whidbey Lions and employees at Whidbey General Hospital.

The bond committee is also busy promoting the bond. Residents should soon be seeing signs on key corners throughout the area. Co-chair Suzanne Bond added that several neighborhood coffees are going to be scheduled before the bond election.

“We have an energetic group of people,” Bond said of the volunteers.

Should voters approve the bond, property owners will see their taxes increase by $1.35 for every $1,000 of assessed value through the next 18 years.

The school district last ran a bond in 1990. That $6.9 million bond paid for the construction of the current middle school building. The 73 cents per $1,000 that voters currently pay on that bond will end in 2007.

Myhr said the community has generally been strongly supportive of bonds and levies.

One school levy failed in 1983, but was approved on the next attempt the same year.

Levies in 1984 and 1995 were passed by voters but there weren’t enough votes to validate the election. However, those measures were also approved on the next attempt.

Sinclair said because more and more voters are using absentee ballots, validation has become less of a concern. Those ballots serve as a reminder for folks to vote in the upcoming election.

Learn all about it

League of Women Voters will host a community information meeting about Coupeville School District bond election. The meeting will be held Thursday, April 29, at 7 p.m. at the Coupeville Performing Arts Center.

Prior to the meeting, at 6:30 p.m., Coupeville Schools Superintendent Bill Myhr will take residents on a tour to point out shortcomings of the high school. All are welcome.

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