For the past 5 months, the 60+ volunteer members of the Ferndale School District Community Bond Task Force have met 11 times with the goal of drafting capital improvement recommendations to give to the Ferndale School Board that would be paid for via a voter-approved bond issue. This was started by considering 3 options provided by the Ferndale School District and a directive that Ferndale High School (FHS) was to be “a signature project.”
Over the course of the meetings, Task Force participants dealt with many areas of need identified throughout the District buildings. These included:
- safety and security projects at every building
- critical mechanical, electrical, plumbing and roofing needs outside of the FHS campus as determined by District maintenance staff, architects and engineers
In addition, re-opening the North Bellingham Elementary campus was considered.
These items are listed and detailed to some degree on the Bond Task Force website.
Options considered regarding the FHS campus were (estimated costs in parenthesis):
- Build a new school at the current site and then remove existing buildings ($115 million).
- Keep and modernize the auditorium, gym complex and cafeteria and then build the remaining area as new, connecting it all into one complex ($97 million).
- Build a new school on a new site to be purchased somewhere near downtown ($120 million).
According to the website, the Task Force eliminated these 3 options from consideration and developed a 4th option. This option recommends keeping the auditorium and replacing all other buildings and is expected to cost between $104 and $110 million.
The Task Force estimates this 4th option would increase property tax for a property assessed at $300,000 by between $350 and $370 per year for 20 years.
Task Force participants will meet one last time tonight before giving their recommendations to the Ferndale School Board at tomorrow’s Ferndale School Board meeting.
As they go into tonight’s meeting, the following, according to the Bond Task Force website, will be discussed.
- Review a draft list of the top critical projects from the district
- Determine what critical needs should be included in the recommendations (except for the high school’s needs, which will be addressed in the rebuild)
- Determine the amount of funds to dedicate to remodeling the FHS auditorium
- Determine whether to recommend reopening the North Bellingham Elementary campus (Windward High School will not occupy it after this school year)
- Consider feedback from the community and whether to make adjustments to recommendations based on that feedback
Community members are encouraged to provide feedback to the Task Force participants. To that end, they have provided a 3-question survey.