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Farmington voters to decide on bond for schools

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FARMINGTON – Farmington residents today will cast their votes on a $35 million bond that would help the Farmington Municipal School District fund capital projects and upgrade and repair district buildings.

If passed, the majority of the bond money would cover the district’s portion of the new Farmington High School project and pay for extensive renovation of Hermosa Middle School and the new Northeast Elementary School. The total cost for renovations at the three schools is nearly $100 million.

The bond would also cover the cost of fixing roofs and repairing heating and air conditioning systems and playground equipment at elementary schools.

If voters approve the bond, the district’s tax rate for debt service will remain at the current rate of $7.426 per $1,000 net taxable value of a home. For example, if a home is valued at $150,000, $50,000 of that would be taxable, yielding an annual payment of $371 for the homeowner.

The biggest bond project is the $62 million project to demolish and rebuild most of the buildings on the Farmington High School campus. The current gym and cafeteria will be renovated and used as a secondary gym while the remaining classroom and administration buildings will be demolished.

The district’s chief of operations, Ted Lasiewicz, said the most recent update to the high school’s construction plans call for two three-story classroom buildings built around an outdoor courtyard area with the new fine arts center, library and cafeteria adjoined to the classroom buildings.

“Essentially, the classrooms, the administration, the cafeteria, the library, all that will be a single structure,” Lasiewicz said.

Assistant Superintendent of Security and Communications Frank Stimac said the new school will be safer because staff will not have to secure 11 separate buildings on campus during a lockdown, and students will not have to travel outside to change classes.

Security is also a major priority as FBT Architects work on the design for the $18 million Hermosa project and $19 million Northeast project.

Principals from both schools said they are excited to see their buildings become more secure by limiting entries into the building to one door, and, in the case of Hermosa, combining all school buildings, like the gym, into a single structure.

“If you don’t have safety, you don’t have education,” said Kelly Erickson, Hermosa’s vice principal and athletic director.

The plans for Hermosa call for two wings of the school to be demolished and a new, three-story structure to be built to connect the north wing and the gymnasium.

Hermosa students for the 2014-2015 school year will be located in the old Tibbetts Middle School. Stimac said parents of Hermosa students had questions about relocating to the aging school building.

“A lot of people have that perception that Tibbetts was dangerous,” Stimac said. “It wasn’t that it was dangerous, it’s just old.”

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