Dear parents and community members:
This is our final week of school in Astoria before winter break. Our students and staff have been working hard and I am sure they are looking forward to some time off to spend the holidays with their families.
December has been overflowing with wonderful events and celebrations at all of our schools. I hope you were able to join us to share the spirit of the season with our students and staff.
It is also a busy time of year for our school board. This past week, our elected board of directors reviewed their goals for the upcoming year. These goals include student attendance, equity, and renewing the district’s strategic plan for another three years.
A final important board goal includes community engagement with every stage of the district facilities bond projects. Our overwhelming community support ensured the passage of the 2018 school bond by over 62 percent. We are so proud that our community has come together in support of our schools and students. We often receive many questions regarding the “next steps.” We welcome specific community questions during this process. Here are some of the most common questions:
Q: With the bond passing, what will it pay for?
A: Every school in the district will see facilities improvements beginning next year. The district will address safety, security and improvements to old and outdated classrooms, including increased vocational and technical learning spaces. We will make our buildings more efficient through upkeep and repairs.
Q: How will I find out about the bond projects at each school?
A: There will be regular updates on the district website. We will also be out in our schools and in our community informing parents and community members of upcoming projects. We want the community to be actively engaged in helping us develop learning spaces for a modern education for our children. Beginning early next year, we will develop design advisory committees at Astor Elementary School, Astoria Middle School and Astoria High School. Throughout the process, we will invite parents and community members to come tour the schools and share their thoughts about project priorities.
Q: What is the process for determining projects?
A: The district established a “blue ribbon” panel of community stakeholders experienced in construction management to help us hire a project manager. Through a competitive bid, we are in the process of selecting the project manager by mid-January.
Q: How do I know that my tax dollars are being spent wisely on the projects?
A: The school board is appointing members to a citizen bond oversight committee. They will meet in open sessions on an ongoing basis throughout all construction to review all projects and costs. We will post their findings on the district website.
Q: When will construction start?
A: Some projects will start as quickly as the summer of 2019. The larger projects — such as replacement of the diamond wing at Astoria Middle School — will take longer to plan and develop. Our goal is to have construction occur with minimal impact on student learning.
Finally, I want to let our community know that we have an opening for a board member on the Astoria School Board. The board is accepting applications through Jan. 4, 2019. It is a dynamic and exciting time to be in the Astoria School District.
On behalf of our students and employees, please accept our sincere appreciation for all you do to make Astoria School District a great place for children.
Craig Hoppes is superintendent of the Astoria School District.