Frequently asked questions…
Is this project really necessary?
Since Mt. Eccles was built in 1954, much has changed in the educational world. Recent requirements of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) have raised the risk of schools that fail to meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). Loss of this status takes away local control of our schools (currently underway in many schools across Alaska). Further, basic needs such as plumbing needs, removal of dangerous asbestos, fire code, technology needs, and the growing requirements of educating our children have changed tremendously since this school was built 54 years ago.
What is this project going to cost the taxpayer?
Currently the interest rate for the bonds is slightly more than 4%. Once approved via support of the public, the facilities committee will work with the City to find the lowest rate for the bond. Current projected costs for this project per $100,000 home for a 20-year bond are roughly $176/$100,000 home, and for a 25 year bond it will be $141/$100,000 home. This amount WILL vary until the actual bond is purchased and the interest rate is secured, and the final costs of the project are finalized.
How much is this renovation going to cost?
Total cost of this renovation is anticipated to be $14.5 million. Due to fuel costs/inflation, this project grows by more than $1 million per year. This past year the legislature extended the “debt reimbursement statute” until 2010. It was initially scheduled to sunset November 10, 2008. What this does is allow for the state to pay 60-70% of school construction for communities such as Cordova.
Didn’t Cordova just renovate Mt. Eccles? When is this renovation conversation going to stop?
Mt. Eccles is one of the oldest schools in Alaska, being built in 1954. Major repairs took place in 1991 and included new ventilation, windows, and upgrades to the mechanical/electrical systems. An elevator was added in 2001 along with handicapped ramps. Much of the buiilding is out of current code (including compliance regarding ADA-Americans with Disabilities Act). A building is typically good for 30-35 years without going through a complete renovation. As noted earlier, there were a couple of areas that were addressed (giving the community the impression that all is well/complete). Actually, Mt. Eccles has never gone through a thorough renovation since it was built. This renovation will add 30-35 years to its life before another renovation will be necessary.
I have some ideas for this renovation. How can I get involved?
Current efforts to gather input have included public forums, school board discussions, council discussions, council/school board joint meetings, facilities committee meetings, and teacher meeting. Continued meetings will be critical to gather input for the conceptual work of this project. Watch the scanner for more info. The next scheduled forum meeting is June 17. It will be held prior to the school board meeting and will begin at 6:30 in the CHS library.
With the price of energy going up as it has, how can we expect to come up with even more money to fund this project?
Efforts are currently underway to secure funds to reduce taxpayer liability. Additional funds from the state and federal government can reduce tax liability tremendously. The district is currently working with professional grant writers to assist in this task. Since this building was built, considerable progress has been made in energy efficiency making its annual costs considerably less. Most important is the need to understand that with the Debt Reimbursement benefit, we will get this school construction reimbursed at 60-70% (gym at 60%, school at 70%).
What is the construction schedule?
With support of the community, the renovation could begin as early as next spring. The project will require 18-20 months to complete. During the construction, the goal is to relocate the children within the existing building allowing construction to be nonstop. This construction will not impact the playground renovation currently underway, in fact in many cases it will compliment the effort.