Cheney Free Press -

By JOHN McCALLUM
Editor 

Cheney voters approve school bond

Cheney Free Press 'Year In Review'

 

December 28, 2017

ALSC

The site and floor plan for the renovated and expanded Cheney High School is shown above. The drawing shows the new 500-seat auditorium, renovated front entrance and parking lot with a new bus loop to serve both the high school and Betz Elementary School next door. The soon to be built new addition for Betz is also shown.

Sometimes, the third time can really be a charm.

The Cheney School District found this out first hand as its third run over two years to get a capital facilities project bond measure passed to renovate and expand the high school passed in February with 61.14 percent of the vote. Two measures in 2015 failed to gain the needed 60 percent supermajority for passage, and in fact, went backward as the April measure received a 55.43 percent yes vote compared to February's 58.43 percent.

After over a year of public input via meetings and online surveys, the 2017 bond came out at almost $10 million more than the 2015 measure but would also cover more than just the high school. Twenty-five additional classrooms will be built at Sunset Elementary in Airway Heights, Windsor Elementary in the Windsor/Marshall area and Betz Elementary in Cheney, along with a new gym at Sunset and multipurpose room at Windsor.

The high school would see 17 new classrooms, a weight and fitness room, practice gym, new wrestling room and a new 500-seat auditorium. All four schools would see enhanced security measures at their front entrances, as would Salnave Elementary in Cheney.

School district officials also incorporated the potential of receiving $2.2 million in state funding from the unhoused students account, reducing the final bond measure to $52 million.

The bond received overwhelming support in the district's more heavily populated precincts. Of those who voted in Cheney's five precincts, 70.95 percent said yes, Airway Heights' three precincts garnered a 62.88 percent approval while distant Eagle Ridge near State Route 195 went for the measure with a 67.38 percent yes vote.

Precincts in the Windsor/Geiger/Marshall area provided a 64.62 percent approval. The highest yes vote came from the subdivisions surrounding the Fairways Golf Course, approving the bond by 71.38 percent.

Since that time the district has been busy. OAC has been hired to oversee project management, ALSC was brought on as the architect and all three entities have been working on final design schematics.

The school board agreed to a general contractor/construction manager arrangement to facilitate the high school work, and after a bidding process, hired Lydig Construction as the general contractor.

The amount of revenues for the projects has grown since passage. Besides the $52 million from the bond and the $2.2 million in state unhoused student funding, officials from the district and OAC believed the state could contribute an additional $5 million through the "building new or in lieu" program.

Combining these items along with a projected $540,000 in interest revenue brings the revised funding to almost $59.2 million.

Finally, the bond originally called for the district's alternative high school, Three Springs, to land near Cheney Middle School. That was subsequently changed after some analysis and additional input this past summer projected some costs savings through another approach.

Three Springs is now located in a former administrative building at the district's headquarters on Needham Hill, next to other similar alternative education programs such as Homeworks!.

Expansion work on Betz Elementary School is slated to go to bid in January, with construction beginning this spring.

John McCallum can be reached at jmac@cheneyfreepress.com.

 

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