NOTES FROM VILLAGE CLUB TOWN HALL ~ OBSD Proposal Options for District
TOWN HALL MEETING
JANUARY 10, 2022
OCEAN BEACH SCHOOL DISTRICT FACILITIES PROPOSAL
FIRE HALL (20) – ZOOM (17)
Village Club Co-Chair Bonnie called meeting to order at 6:06PM ~ Co Chairs Karen Stephens and Jerry Herr in attendance
Superintendent Amy Huntley in attendance
Background on purpose of Town Hall – An OBSD Steering Committee started meeting to discuss facility proposal options in May 2021. A Facilities Advisory Board was established in October, (simply to “advise”…..not to make decisions). Karen Stephens and Bonnie Cozby and others from the north end and district wide were invited to be on the FAC. At the Nov 17th meeting, FAC members were encouraged to share information about the proposed options with their communities in order to bring back comments, questions and suggestions. January 12 is final committee meeting. This meeting will be held at the same time as the OBSD Board work meeting. January 26 OBSD meeting will be when Amy Huntley makes her recommendation with the OBSD making their decision. It is estimated that the ensuing bond will be on an April ballot.
Meeting Notes – Seismic and tsunami issues are a hot topic in many school districts on the coast of Washington. Structural and safety Issues, building improvements and deferred maintenance that must be addressed at each school were discussed. The pros and cons of a Centralized campus, with a new elementary school, located on the grounds of the IHS, were discussed. In lieu of a single campus, tsunami towers (estimated to cost 10.9 million each) for Ocean Park school and Long Beach school would allow the schools to remain open. The cost includes repair/improvements to both school buildings if this option is chosen.
At this time, the cost options being considered are (this list includes all the choices in each category, for descriptions of projects included, please check recent Chinook Observer coverage).
High School – Renovations to Ilwaco HS $29M – Auxiliary Gym $10.4m OR Field House at $5.4M – If no new elementary school is built, cost of Temporary Classrooms $2.7M
Elementary Schools – Build of 660 student capacity school at Ilwaco campus – $44M OR Build of 540 capacity school at Ilwaco campus $41.2M – LBE Renovation/Tsunami Tower $10.9M – OPE renovation/Tsunami Tower $10.9M
Stadium Options – $10M
Ancillary Support Buildings – Alternative School $3.5M – Bus Garage $4.2M
Superintendent Huntley emphasized that the focus is safety. The Board must seek solutions and a Capital Facility plan needed to be done. The high school and the stadium are in urgent need of renovation. The stadium will possibly be condemned in 3 years. Sewer lines are under the floor at the high school and if there is a rupture, the floors have asbestos in the tile and the school would have to close. (Superintendent) Amy would like to have a plan in place for the long term as opposed to being faced with emergencies.
Kelly Rupp, reported that according to the 2020 census, 44% of the homes in our school district are considered “vacant”. The county collects taxes on the property, but the property owner does not live here and therefore; cannot vote on the issue. Further discussion on how much the 2020 census numbers and property assessments have changed in 2+ years followed.
The Wahkiakum school district has filed a law suit asking for relief under the McCleary act. We will advocate but cannot help with funding. To be introduced this session HB 1775 (regarding equitable state funding of public school facilities in rural school districts) was mentioned.
If Ocean Park school is closed down…what will happen? Who is going to take care of it? Amy says, ”we are looking at options”. Someone has approached the school about the possibility of changing the building in to housing, use by other community organizations was also mentioned leading to the question “what organization has the money to do the work needed and maintain such a building?”.
Bonnie read an emailed comment – “Not once during the twenty years that the Ocean Park school was closed after district consolidation was OBSD able to pass an M&O levy. Once the Ocean Park school reopened, levies passed easily, even when they needed to meet turnout and supermajority thresholds. In the 1990s, OBSD attempted multiple bond levies that included the elimination of neighborhood schools. All of them failed. Voters in the district have a long history of rejecting proposals that take away community schools. Why do you believe that voter sentiment has undergone a dramatic change and taxpayers would willingly accept the closure of neighborhood schools?” The Superintendent recalled that not once during the twenty years that OP was closed were levies passed.
An attendee asked for more time to come up with ideas, more options, more community input. A better plan to update schools more often instead of millions of dollars needing to be spent at one time. Better maintenance planned by the OBSD.
Superintendent Huntley: A Board resolution has to be made before a final plan can be brought to the public (by the OBSD Board).
Concerns with buses making less stops and multiple group pick-up/drop-off locations and worry of mixing older and younger students on the same bus was expressed. Amy responded that there would be separation in the seating and that older students tend to behave better when around younger ones. Concern about parents having to make the trip to Ilwaco to pick up sick children.
On a side discussion – VC Co-chair Jerry recalled that at a Village Club meeting just before the Covid “close down” Amy mentioned the percentage of our children that are underprivileged. Our district has approximately 20-30% homeless children. Amy agreed that there is a wide definition of homeless (couch surfing at friends or family members, occasionally living with grandparents, living with family in sub-standard housing without proper utilities and sewage options or students making do together are some of the situations).
It was pointed out that many parents are worrying about housing, food, etc. not a stadium or tsunami tower. A participant asked about impact to Ilwaco’s infrastructure with a new school and 600 students.
Amy reported our school district budget is approximately 15-17 million dollars annually. The annual savings with a central campus would be an estimated half million a year. Question on how much money is kept for contingency – Amy: Her preference is to have 10% of the total budget kept for emergencies because any funds being received from government are not dependable.
Jerry Macy: He is also on the steering committee. He commended Village Club on getting the info out and getting the meeting together. Wants input from the community also. This type of transparency is not often seen in other districts.
Regarding other sources of funding outside of a bond – Amy was not sure if the Infrastructure Bill that recently passed will have any funds that are available. Maybe some of the FEMA funds?
It was asked if the tsunami tower option was a red herring to get more support for central campus?
PCFD1 Chief Bundage asked if the most recent chart of options being considered was an al a carte selection. He added the options need better explanation and t some of the issues seem to be as simple as general maintenance. He added that the proposed FEMA tower procedure the Fire District researched was involved and included ADA considerations among many others. It was not put into action.
Marilyn felt there were no options to make needed repairs to OP school. Either build the tsunami towers…or shut it down. She also felt that painting, etc. should be part of routine maintenance.
Amy admitted that bonds usually don’t pass every option on the first go round. They are generally broken up into smaller projects and tried again later. She also assured the group that there would be better district oversight than the previous renovation projects.
Village Club thanked Superintendent Huntley and all those in attendance for thoughtful discussion. She also thanked the school board for their hard work on the matter so far. Meeting ended 7:43 ish.
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The above is an overview of the meeting…there were many more discussions on the same topics as included in the notes. When the OBSD Board makes the decision on the path this bond request will take, Village Club will hold a follow-up meeting with OBSD board members and Superintendent Huntley invited as speakers.
- More time is needed for community input…the April ballot deadline is too short
- The community, as a whole, cares for the well-being of children living here
- Lack of options is a big concern – unexpected consequences of OBSD action can have significant impact on communities
- Importance of better oversight and pre-planning on all OBSD projects – better use of the money
- Bad timing for bond – still recovering from pandemic and facing inflation
The Ocean Park Area Chamber of Commerce is Proud to be a Lions Club Eyeglass Donation Drop Off Site
Refractive errors can be easily corrected with eyeglasses, yet millions living in low and middle income countries lack access to basic eye care services. Lions have recognized the urgent need for corrective lenses and collect usable glasses in their communities to support the Lions Recycle For Sight Program.
The Ocean Park Area Chamber of Commerce is a donation site drop off location. Stop by our office and drop off your used glasses or hearing aids.
We are located at:
1715 Bay Avenue #1
Ocean Park, WA 98640
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