Coupeville schools seeking votes for $5 million capital facilities levy

Ballots go into the mail Friday for Coupeville School District’s proposed $5 million capital facilities levy. Votes must be postmarked by Tuesday, April 28 or filed that day by 8 p.m.

Ballots go into the mail Friday for Coupeville School District’s proposed $5 million capital facilities levy.

Votes must be postmarked by Tuesday, April 28 or filed that day by 8 p.m.

If approved, the new levy will collect $5 million in property tax revenue over three years, starting in 2016.

The levy would cost a homeowner with a $200,000 home about $180 a year in property taxes, according to the school district.

Funds from the levy would be go toward upgrades and repairs to school facilities, including to a roof, heating and ventilation systems and other aging infrastructure.

Ian Somes, who serves as campaign chair for the levy, has five children going through Coupeville Schools. Four of his children attend the elementary school, which has bathrooms that need to be upgraded. There are also holes in the walls at the school.

“Kids put into school what they feel they get,” Somes said. “I feel kids should be able to go to school and not have to deal with things like holes and heat.

“Kids should be able to focus on learning and not being cold.”

The school district’s plan is to break projects into three phases and pay for the construction as taxes are collected, said school Superintendent Jim Shank.

The first phase would involve remodeling the elementary school rest room; repairing a wall; updating the middle school heating and ventilation system; replacing the track; replacing gym bleachers; and adding additional bleachers at the football field.

Replacing the track is one of the largest expenses at an estimated cost of $727,000.

The track was installed in 1984.

“It was never intended to last 30 years,” Shank said. “We got such a great return on investment on that track — it’s phenomenal.”

The district currently cannot host meets because it’s not regulation. It’s track is only six lanes — regulation is eight — and it’s a quarter mile track measured in yards, not meters.

The district hoped to use the gym bleachers for the remainder of the school year, however a section of them has failed.

Shank said the motor died and, because the bleachers are so old, a replacement motor cannot be found.

The district plans to manually pull out the bleachers one more time for graduation and is in the process of seeking a loan from the state to replace them.

The hope is to pay that additional debt with levy funds.

Phase two, which would occur in 2017, also includes replacing the middle school roof and floors, replacing the elementary school heating and ventilation system, completing Engle Field, replacing track equipment and resurfacing the tennis court.

Phase three, to be completed in 2018, includes one of the largest expenditures with an addition at the elementary school estimating to cost $1 million.

That phase also includes sound and lighting for the performing arts center, replacing middle school windows and creating restroom and concessions at the athletic fields.

Most of the costs are based on hard estimates and the addition includes anticipated engineering services, Shank said.

“We’re excited to move forward,” Shank said. “These are projects that need to be done. We appreciate all the support from the community on getting these things done.”

Construction on levy projects would start in the spring of 2016; much of the first phase would take place during the summer, when school is out.

Some of the projects would require cutting holes in the roof and could be disruptive if school were in session.

The district is already working on getting permits in place so if the levy passes, the district can ensure it stays on schedule, Shank said.

“It’s time to get them done.”

A committee that worked for a year reviewing district facilities suggested building a new cafeteria space at the elementary school, connecting the multipurpose room, and repairing the existing gym space.

Some community members asked why the regular operations and maintenance levy can’t be used for those needs.

“The M&O Levy is used for common repairs,” Shank said. “There’s not much extra there.”

For example, he said, it cost the district $23,000 last year to repair the elevator at the high school.

Campaign supporters will be hitting the streets starting next week, waiving signs and delivering door hangers to residents, Somes said.

Primary sign waiving areas will be at the intersection of State Highway 20 and South Main Street, and in the Greenbank area.