Othello to submit $61.4 million school bond to voters

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OTHELLO — Othello School District voters will be asked to approve or reject a $61,415,236 bond to build a new elementary school, a new middle school and make improvements to Othello High School. The project will not include an athletic complex.

The bond will be submitted to district patrons in February 2018. Because it’s a revenue measure, the proposal will require approval from 60 percent of the voters to pass.

The estimated levy rate is 96 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. If the levy is approved, the owner of property valued at $200,000 would pay $192 per year.

The money would pay for the new elementary and middle schools, which would be built on district-owned property on Lee Road. Tentatively the elementary and middle schools, between them, would house about 700 students.

The actual design process for the buildings won’t start until after the bond is passed, said district superintendent Chris Hurst. As a result it’s still to be determined how many of those 700 kids would be in the new middle school and how many in the new elementary school.

The two would be separate buildings with separate schedules, Hurst said. But they would share some common space, including the cafeteria and gyms. The project also would include an auditorium, seating about 400. It too would be shared space.

The existing OHS campus would be expanded and renovated; Hurst called it “like new.” The building would be expanded to house 1,500 students, which would include new classrooms, another gym and an auditorium. The high school auditorium would seat about 1,500.

Total project cost is estimated at $76,369,097. The district is eligible for school construction money from the state, an estimated $14,953,236.

The design process for the two new buildings would begin during 2018 and is expected to take about a year, Hurst said. For the elementary and middle schools, construction would take about two years, with both opening for students in 2021.

The high school design process would begin in 2019. Construction is projected to take about three years, with students starting classes in the remodeled building in 2023.

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at education@columbiabasinherald.com.

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