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By Andrew Christiansen

Superintendent makes case for new bond

Plan would make $12 million in capital improvements, Heid says


Saying it is time for Goldendale to make an investment in their schools, Superintendent Mark Heid has begun an educational process to inform voters of the plans and need to pass a bond. The plan would make more than $12 million of capital improvements paid for with a 20 year bond to be voted on in February 2016. The project would include $9,200,000 from local taxpayers and an estimated $2,870.000 from state assistance.

Goldendale attempted to pass a bond in 2011 that would have essentially rebuilt the high school. That bond, for $32 million ($20 million local, $12 million state), was soundly defeated with a nearly 75 percent “no” vote. Everything is about five years older now. Heid says that was a “Cadillac” plan. Some of the items from that plan are addressed in the new proposed bond. They include improving the capacity of the science lab, an auxiliary gym, wiring upgrade, wireless technology for computers, a new tennis court and a new concessions building at the football field.

The project seeks to enhance the educational environment by updating building systems and spaces for student safety and security. Among the student safety items are upgrading the fire alarm system and installing a sprinkler system, which Heid says would be required by code once renovations are initiated inside the building. Student safety coming and leaving school will also be addressed by building an asphalt bus loading area around the current Head Start buildings to accommodate primary and high school students, separating car traffic from students riding buses.

A protected and more secure walkway would connect the VocAg building to the high school, limiting outside access to the school. Repaving the parking area adjacent to the tennis courts is also in the plan to eliminate walking hazards created by the heaving asphalt and pot-holed lot.

There are several items that are modernization projects. The current circuit breaker system is inadequate to accommodate increased power requirements of computer systems that are in use throughout the school. In addition, the hard-wire internet connectivity greatly restricts the ability to administer Common Core testing. The school has plenty of mobile computers that would expand the access points to the internet with the installation of wireless technology. This is a need at all three campuses. The plan also calls for remodeling the high school library to wall off a quiet, secure computer area for students involved in credit retrieval.

The science laboratory would also receive a make-over. The current lab has a space-consuming hood that is no longer functional. With science a priority and an area of excellence for Goldendale schools, the planned upgrade would better fit class sizes that are as high as 28 in a room that currently accommodates 20.

A rethinking of the heating and cooling solutions would put HVAC systems on the roof, which the plan estimates will be done for about $850,000 less than updating the current system. It also prevents a shutdown of the entire system, should repairs be needed. The current system was built about 40 years ago and is near the end of its life, says Heid. There are also plans to renovate the high school girls and boys locker rooms to make them a more acceptable and safe area for students. In addition, the restrooms at the gym will also be upgraded in plumbing and privacy and made ADA compliant.

Outside the buildings, plans are to do a total make-over of the tennis courts which drain about $4,000 per year to patch cracked and settled areas. In addition to affecting the quality of play, the uneven surface is a hazard to players. Along those lines is the need to redo the track. In the process, a much needed relocation of long jump and pole vault runways and pits would be included for safety. The track itself is cracking and the long jump runway and pole vault box are real hazards during football games.

The plan would also construct a new restroom plus concession building to the west of the grandstands, allowing guests to see the field from the concession stand and provide a better option to portable toilets.

The addition of an auxiliary gym will help solve two problems: where to house the wrestling program and how to get the robotics program into a cleaner environment. Wrestling is a strong athletic program at Goldendale. The current gym has limited practice facilities in the mezzanine of the current gym. When Goldendale hosts a meet, the huge mats must be hauled down to the main floor and hauled back up afterwards, since the gym also is used for basketball games. The mats would be kept in a suspended system in the new addition. The robotics program, which is the fastest growing extracurricular program at the school and an important part of the science and engineering curriculum, shares space with the wood shop. The dust doesn’t go well with electronic parts. The space of the auxiliary gym would also allow hosting robotics competition.

The proposed auxiliary gym would be about the size of a basketball court and be added to the south side of the gym. The space would be shared by robotics and wrestling, during wrestling season. It would be available as an additional court for volleyball and basketball, either JV games or tournaments. The space is envisioned as a multipurpose area that could also work for drama and other community activities.

The estimated price tag for the bond would be about $0.79 per $1,000 of valuation, less than half of the failed 2011 bond. Heid says it would set up the high school for the next 20 to 25 years. There are public meetings planned for November and January where the public can visit with people associated with each of the upgrades to learn more about the need and the plan.

Heid says the school hasn’t had bond debt for about 12 years. “The people and students deserve to have a strong school,” says Heid. “It is time.”


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