Teachers say bond will help East Grand to handle growth | SkyHiNews.com

Teachers say bond will help East Grand to handle growth

If passed by voters, East Grand School District’s bond initiative would finance the land purchase and building of a new Granby Elementary School. The school, built in 1940, has reached its capacity. The $85 million bond would also finance upgrades at the three other school district buildings.
Maddy Trail/Homegrown Talent Initiative

Kindergarten interventionist Melissa McNertney spends her days helping out in classrooms and meeting with children one-on-one or in small groups.

She shares an office at Granby Elementary School with the first-grade interventionist, Sarah Thompson, which means they often have to schedule around each other’s small group meetings. Sometimes, McNertney ends up sitting on the hallway floors to give those students the individual attention they need.

Built in 1940, Granby Elementary School has seen four additions since its construction. Because of where the building sits, no more expansions are possible.

McNertney, who has taught at Granby Elementary for over a decade, has found that the crowded school is affecting not only her day-to-day work but every teacher’s and student’s success.

“We are busting at the seams,” she said.

Buying land and building a new Granby Elementary School is one major part of the $85 million bond ask going to voters in the East Grand School District this November. To finance the bond, district taxes would increase up to $7.1 million annually for the next 20 years. This would cost a residential property owner $44.48 more in taxes annually per $100,000 of assessed value. Commercial properties would pay $180.42 more per $100,000.

If the bond were to pass, East Grand’s other three school buildings would also see improvements. Beyond repaying the district’s debt incurred for the security work that was completed last year, the three buildings would be brought up to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and see major upgrades to the aged heating systems.

Fraser Valley Elementary, which is also reaching max capacity, would get six more classrooms, upgrades to the “cafetorium” and more. East Grand Middle School hasn’t been renovated since it was built in 2000, so there would be a number of room renovations and a new bus loop, among other changes.

If the measure passes, along with these types of upgrades and renovations, Middle Park High School would be able to finance a new, 11,000-square-foot Career and Technical Education center, also known as a vocational training center.

CTE refers to education that combines academic and technical skills for career-focused training — think “hands on” skills. Lance Maggart teaches welding and woodworking classes at Middle Park, so he sees just how much need there is for this space.

“I see large interest in my programs … especially considering the changing nature of the working world in America and the ever-growing cost of college,” he said.

Despite a lot of student interest, welding classes are capped at 16 students because Maggart only has eight welding stations. While the classroom does have proper ventilation, the students can’t work with certain materials because the fumes are too toxic for what the setup currently provides.

“It really limits how much we can do beyond what we are currently doing, and it limits how much we can expand the programs in a meaningful way,” Maggart said.

Other subjects like family and consumer sciences, including catering, along with technology, business and even art classes, would also find a home in this new building.

This is the second ask the school district has gone to voters for in as many years. East Grand got approval last November to raise the district’s mill levy. That question was different than the bond question because the 2020 measure can only be applied toward teacher and staff pay, and it does not sunset.

The 2020 measure added $1 million to district wages and passed with more than 60% of voters in favor. Teachers and staff saw a 15% pay raise for the 2021-22 school year thanks to the tax increase.

If the bond measure passes, McNertney said she would see it as the community investing once again into local education.

“(It would show) that we recognize that the space that we have isn’t adequate for the work we’re trying to do,” McNertney said. “Teaching has changed over the years and it would be amazing to have spaces that reflect that.”

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