Local News

Omak Schools Seek Bond for New Middle School

Sheila Corson

Jan 10, 2017

The Omak School Board voted Dec. 20 to seek a bond this April for up to $27 million from the district to build a new middle school.

                The total tax amount would go to $2.51 per $1,000 of assessed value (about $376 per year for a house assessed at $150,000). The current bond still in place for the high school remodel and CTE building will retire in 2025, but the bond has been structured so that the rate will remain the same for the next 20 years instead of sharply increasing now and dropping off later.

                Those on a fixed income of $40,000 or less (such as seniors) can apply for an exemption through the County Assessor’s Office.

                A committee of staff and community members worked together on a long-range plan for the district, identifying the middle school as the top priority. Architectural surveys and rankings showed that the middle school, originally built in 1948, was the building most in need of replacement.

                The committee researched several scenarios, including the possibility of just remodeling, but the cost of doing so would be just as much or more than building a new facility, and there is no easy way to expand the building. To build an entirely new facility on the current location would not only mean portables for two years for the middle school, but also no room for real expansion, such as middle school-specific sports fields or any play area not in blacktop.

                Instead, the group decided that the best thing for middle school students and staff would be to build a new building on a separate location. Property north of North school was explored, but the cost drove the district to look elsewhere. As of the last board meeting, the district is in agreement with two landowners for a set price for up to 120 acres off Sandflat Road, north of Engh Road. Once studies are performed here, the district will decide how much land to build and what infrastructure to put in place to prepare for school construction.

                The actual designs of the facility will not be created until after a bond passes. This is both because of the cost involved in a design process – engineers, architects and more – and because the district needs to be sure the construction will go forward with a bond passing before they spend any money associated with the bond. A design committee will be formed once the district gets to that phase.

                What is known is that the facility will be about 77,000 square feet, serving up to 500 students, with a gym, cafeteria, space for CTE programs, arts rooms and flexible instructional space.

                Once the current middle school is emptied, the Emert elementary school portion (sixth and seventh grade wings and library) will be demolished. The remaining offices and eighth grade wing (which were added in 1988) will be repurposed for PAC storage and use, professional development space and possibly district offices. Any remodeling costs will not be taken from the bond, but from the districts regular project budget.

                We will continue to make updates through news media and our website and Facebook page. For more information or to join the bond committee, contact the District Office at 826-0320. 


Omak Bond Quick Facts:


 1. We are proposing a 20-year bond, which would cost about $2.51 per $1,000 of as­sessed value ($376 per year for a $150,000 home). It will start col­lecting in 2018. In order to avoid an even sharper increase at the begin­ning, we have balanced it with our other bond still in place (for the high school remodel) so that the rate will stay the same for the next 20 years, even after the other bond retires in 2025.

2. Those on a fixed income (such as seniors) of less than $40,000 per year can apply for an exemption from these taxes through the county auditor’s office.

3. The facilities team looked at doing a major remodel instead, but that would take just as much if not more money to do rather than build new. To build on the current location not only means portables for the middle school for at least two years, but also no room for real expansion or outdoor facilities, so they keep on sharing facilities with the high school or walking to south field or having virtually no playground.

4. We had been looking at build­ing north of North school, but the cost of the land drove the team to look other places, hence we are in agreement with two property owners for a set price for some land off Sandflat Road, north of Engh Road. There is up to 120 acres available (we haven’t determined yet how many acres we will purchase), giving us plenty of space to grow and put other facilities there someday (such as maintenance facilities, possibly other schools, sports fields, etc.). The ground is still under study, as well as the costs for extending the water/sewer lines from the city, building a road and sidewalks, etc.

5. Once we are out of the cur­rent middle school, the sixth and seventh grade wings will be demol­ished, leaving the offices and eighth grade wing for repurposing, such as more space for the PAC, professional development space and possibly district offices. The cost of any remodeling done would NOT come out of the bond, but would be part of the district’s regu­lar project budget.

6. It won’t be until after we have passed a bond that we will be­gin the detailed work of the new middle school design. So we don’t have details on the facility, but we know it will be about 77,000 square feet, serving up to 500 students, with ev­erything they need to be successful.

7. We are forming a bond com­mittee to work leading up to the April 25th election, and we need the community to be involved. Contact the District Office at 826-0320 to join the committee.

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