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Special workshop addresses S'side educational facility bond

Community residents urged to attend 'YES' committee meeting scheduled for Jan. 18

The Sunnyside School Board held a workshop last night to discuss the coming bond election and to get feedback on two policies, strategic allocations of resources, and policy and program coherence.

Sunnyside School Superintendent Dr. Rick Cole told the board the bond focuses on providing new grandstand seating for Clem Senn Field and upgrades to the high school auditorium.

March 13 Sunnyside residents will vote on whether to approve a $1.95 million bond for these improvements. The cost to the taxpayer will be 14ยข per $1,000 of assessed valuation of their homes or businesses. That would increase a person's property tax by $14 if they owned a $100,000 home.

Currently, Sunnyside residents enjoy the second lowest tax rate in Yakima County with a tax rate of $1.46 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. If the bond were to pass, taxes would increase to a maximum of $1.60, still the second lowest tax rate in Yakima County.

Cole told the board the proposed improvements are new bleachers in Clem Senn Field, expanded parking, additional restrooms, lighting and fencing, a new public address system for Clem Senn Field, sound and lighting upgrades to the high school auditorium and a new surface for the high school track.

The $1.95 million would be broken down as follows: $600,000 for the grandstand seating, $400,000 for new lighting around Clem Senn Field, $300,000 for the high school auditorium, $200,000 for new fencing and parking, $200,000 to resurface the track, $100,000 for the restrooms and $150,000 set aside in a contingency fund. All dollar amounts are approximates.

Cole added that when the new lighting is put in place the tennis courts and baseball field could also be relit.

Board member Lorenzo Garza, playing devil's advocate, asked Cole how soon the bleachers could be put in if the bond didn't pass.

"That's a good question," Cole answered. "We'll make that decision down the road. We might have to bring in chairs for graduation."

The current field bleachers are more than 40 years old and they no longer meet current safety codes. They must be replaced. If the bond passes no academic funds will be used to upgrade the bleachers but if it fails, the school board will be forced to use academic funds for the bleachers.

Cole also told the board a 'yes' committee has been formed to drum up support for the bond. The first meeting of this committee will be Jan. 18, from 5:30 to 7 p.m., at the high school auditorium. All community residents are invited to attend.

Also at last night's workshop, Cole asked the board for input on what the administration should be focusing on as far as allocation of resources, and policy and program coherence.

Board member Steve Carpenter said he really appreciated a recent breakdown of all of the district's expenditures.

Although these expenditures were listed in the budget, he said the way they were broken down recently really gave him a better understanding of them. He added he would like to see this done with the revenues.

Garza told Cole he would like a detailed look at how the different budgets interlink with each other.

Board member Miguel Puente said instead of spending just 90 days working on the budget, he would like to see the board work on different items year around.

As for the policy and program coherence ideas, Cole told the board all policies come through a policy development group.

He said he would like all meeting agenda items to be marked with its corresponding policy.

All board members thought this was a good idea.

"It will help focus our questions on the presentations," Puente said. "It would be the most efficient way for the district to ask the board to make decisions."

Cole agreed, saying the board could look at the policy while voting on the action items.

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