Omak Bond Fact #1: The cost to you
The bond we are proposing will be for 20 years, beginning collection in 2018. It will cost about $2.51 per $1,000 of assessed value. We structured it so that the collection rate will stay the same over the next 20 years, even once the current bond in place retires in 2025 (from the high school remodels). That way, there isn't a sharper increase in the beginning to drop off in seven years. The amount will ALL go toward building a new middle school and demolition of the 1948 portion of the current school.
(To calculate how much it will cost you, you can get your assessed value from the County Assessor's Office at http://okanoganwa.taxsifter.com/Search/Results.aspx and search for your last name.)
Omak Bond Fact #2: Exemptions for fixed income
A big concern over a new bond issue is for those on a fixed income, such as seniors. But anyone on a fixed income of less than $40,000 per year can apply for an exemption on these taxes through the county assessor's office, and not have to worry about a single extra penny per month. More details:
Omak Bond Fact #3: Why not just remodel?
The big question: Why not just remodel instead of build new?
We don’t have room for any expansion at the current site of the middle school. Did you know there are no facilities for Career and Technical training, insufficient space for special education student needs, no middle school-designated sports fields and insufficient space for mental health services. These were not concerns in 1948 when the building was built, but education has changed!
The middle school and high school currently share some important spaces, which lead to some logistical nightmares and cramped quarters, including the cafeteria, Steven’s Gym, sports fields and the band and choir room. With a new structure, this can be built specifically for middle school student needs, both creating a better place for 6-8th and a freedom for the high school to schedule easier and fit into their spaces.
It’s probably no surprise that the standards for electrical, heating, cooling, plumbing and technology infrastructure has changed since the 1940s. So, over the years, we’ve made upgrades, bypassing old systems or trying our best to get them to work. But much of the middle school infrastructure is so old and outdated it would require a total gut to really make it work up to the standards we need for our students and staff and education of today. Our maintenance and custodial staff are amazing at keeping us running, but once certain systems fail, some parts are no longer produced for certain equipment, and the price tag gets bigger and bigger.
We ran the numbers with architects, and in order to remodel up to code with all our needs met, we are looking at several million dollars more to remodel than to rebuild on another site. Even if we rebuild on the current site, we still leave out the possibility for outdoor space for our students, who are going from fifth grade recess field to a sixth grade blacktop and shared fields for their first years in school sports. Rebuilding on the current site also likely means more demolition of the 1988 expansion area (office and eighth grade wing), a two-story structure at least to fit needs and, therefore, a more expensive new building with no potential for future expansion.
Omak Bond Fact #4: Safety concerns
Have you ever noticed some of the safety issues at the middle school? It’s actually way too close to the street, which is a problem for stray traffic among other things. We also don’t have a very secure entryway, which currently goes through the PAC dressing rooms before the foyer and office area. We need a better system to see everyone who comes in before allowing them entry (similar to East). Both these issues are solved by a new building, along with bringing the building up to current standards for earthquake, fire suppression and other systems that can’t happen in the current facility.
Omak Bond Fact #5: Gym and sports
Raise your hand if you’ve ever seen a basketball/volleyball game in Steven’s Gym! It’s great as an auxiliary gym, but it sure is cramped for regular sports! The structure has lots of issues, which might be fixable if we had space to expand (which we don’t at the current middle school). With 6-8th graders just starting in school sports, they need a quality facility that is both safe for them and spectators, as well as having sufficient space in locker rooms for both home and guest teams. Stevens can then become a secondary/community gym.
Omak Bond Fact #6: Location - Sandflat
We’ve been looking all over Omak for the best place, and we chose the Sandflat area for MANY reasons!
1. Lots of room to expand, and possibly consolidate other facilities to one campus, such as the bus garage and district warehouse, maybe even a new elementary school in the next couple decades. The possibilities are endless!
2. We will be putting in important infrastructure and doing some annexing to make it work for us, which also makes it more appealing for incoming business and increases real estate values in the area, making it a big help for our local economy.
3. Compared to other land possibilities we explored, this empty, untouched land is far less expensive and we get more for our dollar, which is good financial management on our part.
Omak Bond Fact #7: How much for a middle school?
$33 million is quite the price tag! The estimate comes from professional architects, who looked at the costs of construction, estimating a further increase by the time we can build. The building itself should cost about $270/square foot for 77,000 square feet (nearly $21 million), but we also have to pay for consultants, architectural design, permitting, tax and more. (Here's a Breakdown of Costs for those detail-minded folks.) There are also costs associated with the site, such as extending water/sewer and other services, and road work. Without including the site costs, the costs put us around $33 million for the building (and demolition of the old middle school).
Omak Bond Fact #8: What we know about the new school
We met with Middle School staff and researched what needs are, and the proposal is for a 77,000 square-foot facility, which includes space for up to 500 students with Career-Technical space, arts programs, a gym, cafeteria and flexible instructional space to meet future needs. We have 300 students right now at the Middle School, but the classes are getting larger in elementary levels, so that we will be past current capacity in the coming years. We also want to make sure we plan for future growth, so that the building fits our needs for another 70 years. The exact design will take about a year to do after a bond passes, and the community will be welcome to participate in helping us with that step! Let us know you are interested by calling our District Office at 826-0320 and we will get you on our list!
Omak Bond Fact #9: The process to plan
Our Facilities Committee met for more than a year to plan the future of our district. We held community surveys and forums, did professional studies, researched how education needs have changed and came up with our Long-Range Facilities Plan. You can view it here http://www.omaksd.org/our_district/long-_range_facilities_plan. Priority One was identified on all counts as the Omak Middle School.
Omak Bond Fact #10: The reusable space
Although the Middle School will move off-site, much of the current facility will remain, including the PAC, Steven’s Gym and the multi-purpose room/cafeteria. The main office and eighth grade wing will also remain, being a 1988 addition, and can be repurposed.
However, we won’t be allowed to use that space for instructional purposes, so we will revamp it to be more PAC storage/usage space, as well as room for staff training and possibly administrative offices. Any costs incurred in the reusage of the 1988 portion will NOT be part of the bond, but will come out of district savings.
Omak Bond Fact #11: Bond history
Our last bond was in 2005, where we asked for $9.5 million to remodel the High School and build the new CTE building (with more than that being matched by the state). The last time we actually built a full school was after arson destroyed North Elementary School, causing the need for a rebuild in the late 1980s/early 1990s, which was almost entirely covered by insurance and state match. Before that, 1955 was the big year that East and North were first opened, which would be the last time we actually asked for taxpayers to provide a large portion of the funds for construction of an entire building, instead of just remodeling (there were a few smaller bonds, under $1 million, in recent decades).
Omak Bond Fact #12: Get registered!
If you haven't already registered to vote, you still have time! You can register at the Okanogan County Auditor's Office by April 17, or online before March 27 at vote.wa.gov.