Arlington school officials unveiled their largest building renovation plan in 15 years yesterday and included a proposal to pay for most of the $47 million, six-year program through the sale of bonds.
The plan calls for bond referendums totaling $33 million to be held in 1988, 1990 and 1992. The remaining $14 million would come from the school's annual capital budget, officials said.
The money would be spent on renovations and repairs to each of Arlington's 37 schools, the average age of which is 39 years. It is a soup-to-nuts array of projects, including heating, lighting, window, ceiling and roofing replacements, landscaping, playground resurfacing and classroom improvement.
"This is a movement actually generated from the schools that moved up to us," said Tom Weber, assistant superintendent of operations and facilities, at a morning news conference. " . . . There's something for every single school in it."
The proposal was presented to the School Board last night; a vote is scheduled for March 31. The county board, which must approve a referendum before it can be held, will decide in April whether to support a school bond referendum. In August the county board must formally adopt the details of any bond referendum to get the issue on the November ballot. Decisions about the 1990 and 1992 referendums would be made in future years.
If approved for a vote, it would be the first school bond referendum held since 1975, when voters turned down a request to finance a $1.3 million school project.
Next year could turn out to be a major milestone in bond-financed capital projects in Arlington. County Manager Anton S. Gardner is expected to recommend tomorrow that the county board adopt a major construction package, to be financed by the sale of about $40 million in bonds, according to county officials. A new jail and improved waste water treatment center are the major ticket items.
The county has held bond referendums every other year for at least two decades, said Budget Director Mark B. Jinks. In 1986, county voters approved a $24.1 million bond sale for capital improvements.
Jinks said the county's current debt service is extremely low at 0.74 percent, the ratio of debt to the county's tax base.
"Financially we are in an excellent position," said County Board Chairman John G. Milliken. "As a political proposition, I think we will have an extra obligation this year to go out and tell people why we think these bonds are a good idea."
The single largest expense in the school proposal is $13 million to install air conditioning in 15 schools and make repairs and adjustments to the air conditioning in 14 other buildings and schools.
School officials said every year some schools are forced to close because of overheated classrooms.
Other major items recommended:$4.6 million to replace incandescent and fluorescent lights with recessed lights at 21 schools.
$4.1 million to replace windows at 28 schools and the maintenance facility.
$3.9 million to replace roofs.