SEASIDE — Seaside School District voters said a resounding “yes” Tuesday to a $99.7 million bond to move three schools out of the tsunami inundation zone.
In a 65 percent to 35 percent vote, residents endorsed the plan to replace deteriorating schools at an 80-acre location in the city’s East Hills adjacent to Seaside Heights Elementary School.
“This victory belongs to our community which had the foresight to see how important high quality schools are to the future of everyone who lives in the Seaside School District,” Superintendent-emeritus Doug Dougherty said. “New schools benefit the entire community, strengthen our economy and, in this case, provide a safe place for all in an emergency. From retirees to those just starting out, employees to business owners, children and families; education touches everyone and strengthens the fiber and opportunity of our community.”
The bond came three years after a failed $128.8 million dollar plan. The scaled-back proposal eliminated an auditorium, covered bleachers, long-term emergency shelters and a varsity playing field. The new bond equates to about $1.35 per thousand, a 37.5 percent total reduction in cost from the previous bond. A home with an assessed value of $200,000 would see a tax hike of about $270 and a $400,000 home about $540.
Advocates of the proposal, including Vote Yes For Our Local Schools, presented a sustained campaign to promote the bond, which, they said, was necessary not only for the safety of the students but because of the condition of the schools. Gearhart Elementary School, Broadway Middle School and Seaside High School were built with an expected life span of 45 to 50 years. Each has been used beyond that span. Dougherty described the schools as unsafe, deteriorating and “very inefficient.”
With a land gift of 80 acres from Weyerhaeuser Co. in the East Hills, along with favorable interest rates and a likelihood of limited matching funds from the state, proponents said “this was the best time” to pass the bond.
“It really shows that this community cares about its kids, its families and its economic prosperity,” said Gail Dundas of Vote Yes for Our Local Schools. “I’m still just reeling from the wonder of it all.”
“We’ve very happy, “ said Seaside School District Superintendent Sheila Roley. “What I’m feeling is an incredible level of gratitude to our community and our students, and the way people have come together to support our students and our learning. It’s a wonderful testament to how our community operates.”
Next steps, Dougherty said in October, the school district would approach the City Council for an urban growth boundary expansion, a process joined by the county and the state. The expansion enabling roads and services could be completed within a year. Schools are expected to be completed at the new location within four years.
“Thank you to so many people who made this happen for our kids,” Roley said.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our community for stepping forward and making a truly historic decision that will improve the lives of children and families for generations to come,” Dougherty added.