The Toppenish School District is asking voters to approve a $10 million capital improvement levy for new classrooms and a gym at the high school.
The proposed renovations to the high school campus span 35,000 square feet, Toppenish Superintendent John Cerna said. The measure is on the ballot for the Nov. 5 election.
The funding would build four classrooms including a training room and career technical education classroom, a 3,000-square-foot commons area, two locker rooms and a school store that can be used for team merchandise or as a concession stand. The funding also would be used for a 3,000-bleacher-capacity gymnasium with three basketball courts, compared to the current 800-bleacher-capacity gym.
The new levy would raise property taxes within district boundaries, adding $2.50 per $1,000 property value, or $250 annually for a house valued at $100,000, or $500 annually for a home valued at $200,000.
The six-year levy would be matched with $6 million in state funds approved by the state in April. The entire project would cost $16 million.
To pass, the capital improvement levy requires a simple majority of just over 50% voter approval.
Cerna said the new gymnasium would be built south of the present gym, near the football field and language building. It would allow the school to host district and regional basketball and wrestling matches.
The district has already finished architectural plans and hopes to break ground as early as spring, if the levy passes, said Cerna. The next step would be to put out a bid for contractors. Cerna anticipates the project would take at least one year to complete.
The superintendent said the levy was a rare opportunity.
“Usually, the state in the past hasn’t matched gyms as instructional facilities, so it’s a really good deal,” he said. “For $10 million in taxes, we’re getting matching of
$6 million, so we’re able to add classrooms and do things we really needed.”
So far, Cerna said community feedback to the proposed levy had been positive.
“We feel really good. It depends on how the voters go, but in our community so far, we haven’t heard anything negative,” he said. “I think we’ve got a great shot.”
The levy is a follow-up attempt to a $17 million 2015 bond measure the district ran, which would have covered major renovations to the district’s middle school, a new classroom wing at an elementary school and the new gymnasium at
the high school. The proposal, which required a 60% supermajority, garnered just 48% of votes in favor.