Rally kicks off push to pass school bond

A "Renew our CommitmentGÇ¥ rally for the Monroe School District was held last week, to formally kick off the 2015 campaign to renew the school bond tax rate commitment.
Hosted by Sam Wirsching of Sam's Cats and Dogs, Naturally and Mitch Ruth of Ruth Realty, the event took place on Friday, March 6. Members of the Monroe School Board and the Monroe Public Schools Foundation were in attendance, along with Monroe Mayor Geoffrey Thomas, his wife, Lara, Monroe City Councilmember Patsy Cudaback and numerous other community members and bond initiative supporters.
The bond measure, which will be on the April 28 ballot, will not increase the tax rate. This is because in 2016, all of the school district's existing bond debt will be paid off, enabling them to acquire a new bond by simply renewing the existing rate.
"I try to convey to the business community that schools are one of the most significant issues when it comes to values in a community,GÇ¥ Ruth said. "Successful schools draw people GÇô families GÇô into a community, which draws business and creates jobs. This is really more of a symbiotic thing than just the no-brainer thing of supporting our kids.
"It's a huge impact,GÇ¥ Ruth continued. "The quality of schools is one of the cornerstones of the community.GÇ¥
Currently, property owners pay $1.48 per $1,000 of assessed property value, an amount that is not expected to increase should the bond measure pass.
If approved by the voters, a renewal of the $1.48 tax rate could generate $110.9 million. This amount would allow the district to qualify for approximately $21.3 million in state construction assistance, bringing the total up to $132 million, once the anticipated $640,000 in developer mitigation fees is included.
It has been more than a decade since Monroe School District voters approved a bond measure to fund school facilities. If passed, the money would be used to modernize Park Place Middle School, modernize and expand Salem Woods Elementary School, expand Hidden River Middle School, consolidate and expand Frank Wagner Elementary School and build new all-weather ball fields at Monroe High School.
Additionally, the district would catch up on small improvements and major maintenance projects at Chain Lake Elementary, Fryelands Elementary, Leaders in Learning at Wagner Center, Maltby Elementary and at the Sky Valley Education Center.
The modernization of Park Place Middle School has been targeted as a high-priority project. Built in the mid-1970s, Park Place actually served as Monroe High School before it transitioned into a junior high. A significant portion of the bond money would go toward improving security measures, renovating the gym, constructing new classrooms and adding new all-weather fields at Park Place Middle School.
On Jan. 27, the Monroe City Council voted unanimously to adopt a resolution proclaiming support of Monroe School District's bond measure, which will be on the ballot as Proposition No. 1.
Thomas advocated vigorously for the bond initiative and gave a lively presentation.
"The school board has done their work and put together a very good set of projects. We're not raising taxes as part of doing this,GÇ¥ Thomas said. "We have more unity in our community than we've had in the past, and you know what? The word unity is in community.GÇ¥
He explained that in 2014, for the first time ever, the Monroe City Council passed a resolution in support of the school district's learning levy, which passed when it was put before voters.
"People see the need to invest in our community; people see the need to invest in our schools,GÇ¥ Thomas said. "We've done our homework. What we need now is we need to get people to vote GÇô we need 60 percent of the vote. Not 50 percent, 60 percent.GÇ¥
School bond issues require a supermajority in order to pass, which means that the "yesGÇ¥ votes must represent at least 60 percent of the votes cast in the election.
"I need each and every one of you to go out there and get that football across that line and score a touchdown,GÇ¥ Thomas said.
For more information on the proposed 2015 school bond, visitwww.monroe.wednet.edu.


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