Residents, board members ask for a more detailed plan and transparency before the Nov. 5 election

School board officials say it’s time for Corbett residents to decide whether they want to support a $15 million bond measure that would improve safety, make renovations to meet seismic codes and make operations more efficient throughout the district.

The Corbett School Board voted 5-2 Tuesday, Sept. 3, during a special board meeting to go out for a bond measure not to exceed $15 million for the Nov. 5 election.

Resident Janet Ruddell, who ran for Position 3 of the school board last spring and served on the facility planning committee, urged the board to be up front and clear on bond details and language.

Other residents and board members said the time was ripe with low interest rates and that surveys and studies conducted since January 2013 by a group of Corbett citizens, professional architects, engineers and construction experts showed support for the bond.

If the bond passes, the district expects to renovate buildings to reduce maintenance costs; replace old plumbing, electrical and heating/ventilation systems; meet building codes for seismic, fire and life safety; improve campus safety and traffic flows; and comply with federal ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) and educational equity laws.

Board directors Annette Calcagno and Victoria Purvine voted against the bond, citing concerns about the amount of the bond and that plans weren’t detailed enough about what the money would be used for.

“I think we’re overreaching our wants versus our needs,” Calcagno said. “I was more in support of an $8 (million) to $10 million bond. I can support something, but not this.”

Purvine said she was concerned the district was taking the opportunity to grow itself instead of just taking care of the middle school.

In 1994, voters passed a $6.5 million bond to construct a new elementary school. Besides the elementary school, district buildings are between 35 and 90 years old.

The district has raised particular concern about the middle school, constructed in 1923, which doesn’t meet safety and seismic building codes.

“It’s scary to me because that’s where my son sits right now,” said Todd Mickalson, a school board member. “It’s going to fail at some point and whose kids are going to be in it when it fails? That’s the part that worries me.”

A $15 million bond would cost an estimated $2.29 per $1,000 of assessed value, which if approved, would increase the property tax rate for Corbett School District residents by 9 cents per $1,000 of assessed value.

The bond would mature over a period not to exceed 26 years.

“As a board, we’re not voting to spend $15 million here,” said David Gorman, a school board member. “We’re voting whether to put this measure on the ballot so the people of Corbett can vote whether they want to give the residents of Corbett to make that decision themselves.”

At the end of the meeting, board chairman Charlie O’Neil urged the board to support the campaign for the bond through personal donations to the political action committee (PAC) and pledged $100 of his own money.

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