Voters in the Centralia School District appear to have approved a $74 million capital bond measure that will help the district address the most urgent facility needs. The preliminary ballot count shows that 61.8 percent of voters supported the measure.
“We’re ecstatic, really,” said Superintendent Mark Davalos. “Not for ourselves, but because this is a very solid investment in the future of our schools, our children, and in this community that we all love very much.”
Davalos thanked the many volunteers who served on various committees and teams throughout the facility review and campaign process, dating back nearly 16 months. “Dozens, if not hundreds, of community members rallied to this cause. They participated in our facility master planning process, they gave input through surveys, they campaigned on behalf of the district’s students, and we couldn’t be more proud or grateful for their work,” Davalos said. “Their commitment to this city is truly inspirational.”
With the passage of the bond, the district can now begin work laying plans for construction. The projects were identified through a yearlong process, with a large committee of community members making recommendations to the board for approval last November. The projects targeted by this measure include:
• The complete reconstruction of Centralia High School as a like-new facility, fully modernized and suitable for 21st Century teaching and learning. All portable classrooms will be eliminated and the new S.T.E.M. facility, funded by a grant from OSPI will be part of the new permanent building layout.
• The replacement of Jefferson Lincoln and Fords Prairie schools with brand new facilities capable of housing 525 students in grades K-6. Each school will be built on the existing properties, with the current buildings remaining occupied until construction is completed. These higher capacity schools will help reduce, but not eliminate, overcrowding at the districts remaining elementary schools.
• The reconfiguration of all elementary schools in Centralia to K-6 schools. This is a research-supported change to the educational system in Centralia and will promote better and longer lasting family relationships within schools. The learning loss associated with a school transition between 3rd and 4th grade will be eliminated, and the schools will become neighborhood centers.
• Safety and security upgrades at all schools.
“I want our patrons to know, we are and will continue to be diligent guardians of your investment. We do not take your support and generosity for granted,” Davalos said. As the projects move forward, the district hopes to continue to engage members of the community in a collaborative approach to ensure that the results are successful and that they best represent the will and needs of Centralia. “This is where the fun work begins,” Davalos said. “Now we get to come together as a community and really decide what the future of education here looks like. We heard that our community was ready to make this investment, and you’ve proven us right. Now we’re going to build an education system together that we can all be proud of.” The estimated tax rate is $2.12 per $1,000 of assessed property value, or about $29 per month for the owner of a $160,000 property.
“A strong, healthy community’s foundation is built on an excellent school system,” Davalos said. “I am honored to have been a part of this team effort, I’m proud of our city, and I can’t wait to get started!”