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Banks board punts school bond for now

Schools chief says district buildings remain at risk, but the time for a bond isn't now
by: File photo Superintendent Jim Foster says the Banks School Board has decided not to ask voters to pass a bond levy in November.

November is not the right time to ask voters in Banks for more money for schools.

That's the conclusion Banks School Board members came to Aug. 8, when they decided to hold off on floating a construction bond levy in November's special election.

It would have been the fourth time in three years voters faced a money measure connected to Banks schools. Last May, they turned down a $10.5 million bond request that would have paid for renovations to the district's high school and an overhaul of the junior high school.

Essentially, the funds would have girded up old, and in some cases crumbling, buildings school officials fear could experience seismic and safety problems in the near future.

Roofs and heating systems, at Banks Junior High in particular, are under stress.

But Banks Superintendent Jim Foster agreed Monday it's best that the district bide its time.

'We want to make it clear we are not abandoning our plans - we still believe the infrastructure of our buildings needs attention,' he said.

The board decided to 'postpone indefinitely' plans to seek bond approval, an acknowledgment, Foster said, of the squeeze the recession has put on the finances of many district residents.

'The state of the economy overall has people a little nervous,' Foster noted. '[The board] just didn't have a good feeling about putting a bond up at this point.'

In order to be eligible for the Nov. 8 election, the district would have had to file papers with Washington County by Sept. 5, said Mickie Kawai, elections office manager.

Foster said members of the facilities committee would be meeting soon to form a contingency plan to address the district's response to 'emergency situations in our buildings,' should they arise.

'The question we'll ask is, 'What if we did have something happen that would put the building out of use?'' said Foster.

Possibilities range from earthquake damage to roof leaks, he added.

Committee members will envision situations that would require moving students to alternate environments, noted Foster.

'We have a few classrooms available due to downsizing our staff during budget cuts last spring,' he said.