ASD Bond Passes the Test

New Bond is Good News for Ashland School District

Grace Johnson

During the 2018 midterm elections, Measure 15-178 was passed in Ashland. This measure issues $109 million in general obligation bonds, which is money that can be used only for improving long term infrastructure in the Ashland School District. The Ashland community is historically very generous when paying taxes for schools. The bond passed with 69% of community members voting “yes” and 31% voting “no.” With this new bond, schools are hoping they can improve buildings for safety, modernization, health, technology, and energy efficiency. The bond money will not be fully available until June 2019, because the existing bonds that were issued in 2007 are projected to be paid off in May 2019. The money will be used throughout the next 25 years beginning in June 2019.

Jordan Ely, the Chief Finance & Operations Officer for ASD, said that since the bond is so new, no plans are “set in stone.” Plans for exactly what to do with these funds is being worked out by the district bond committee that was created in July 2017. The committee is made up of both school board members and community members. Schools across the district have made “wish lists” of improvements for their schools, although none of the proposed ideas have been approved because the district is trying to “establish overarching projects in all facilities” according to Ely. The school district consulted financial firms to help the bond committee determine the amount of bond money ($109 million) they would ask for. However, a specific budget has yet to be made for each school.

For Ashland High School specifically, Karl Kemper and Erika Bare, along with office manager Rebecca Sullivan walked every inch of campus in June 2018 to determine what the priorities were for renovations. On their list is to upgrade the humanities, science, and library buildings. At the moment, AHS’s top priority is attaching an elevator to the humanities building to make it more accessible to students who have disabilities or injuries. A rumor about a potential resurfacing the parking lots has even been floating around, as well as improved intercoms and bells.

The biggest concern the district and community have is security improvements within schools. Ely said that during board meetings, members of the committee heard all kinds of perspectives, from extremes such as fences with barbed wire around schools to completely open campuses. The district has talked with architects about specific designs for safety improvements and are planning to facilitate conversations with students about what they envision for their safety. One idea that has stood out is integrating an electronic key system for the buildings. This would enforce badge access to buildings, track which employees are on campus, and create limited access to visitors. The district also wants to enhance hallway circulation on campuses such as Helman that are easily accessible to visitors and people of the public. Student safety is the top priority within the district. Modernizing and making buildings more energy efficient is also high on the list of improvements that want to be done in schools. Walker Elementary and Ashland Middle School are the two schools that need the most work to improve efficiency. A large portion of the bond money will go to improving HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) systems, as well as restructuring them in a way that will make the buildings sturdy for years to come. Overall, the district is hoping that with these upgrades, schools will have a better sense of security and students will be able to learn in an environment that is best for them and their knowledge.