Seaside’s deteriorating schools lead to bond measure


By Sue Cody


Seaside bond 1Walking into Broadway Middle School in Seaside, you might not notice the floor is settling at different levels, but you will surely see the water marks along the walls from rain leaking in.


“No matter how often we clean or paint the wall, it gets a new streak,” says Doug Dougherty superintendent emeritus of the Seaside School District.


The school district says it is time to move because three school buildings are falling into disrepair with faulty heating systems, crumbling concrete, rusted and asbestos-wrapped pipes, leaky roofs and old electrical wiring. Seaside High School, Broadway Middle School and Gearhart Elementary are also located in a tsunami inundation zone.


Seaside bond 5A bond measure to build a new school complex near Seaside Heights Elementary is on the November ballot. Weyerhaeuser has donated land near Seaside Heights, above the tsunami zone, and if the bond passes, the district is in line to receive $4 million in state funding. This bond is 37.5 percent lower than the bond that was defeated in 2013.


District Superintendent Sheila Roley says, “Our students in Seaside are bright, hard working and committed to having a bright future for themselves and our community.


“A new safe school with an environment designed for student learning will enhance their lives as well as support a healthy community.”


Seaside bond 7Damage at schools


At Broadway Middle School, the south-facing gym wall is actually deteriorating because it was built without reinforcement and the wrong grade of cement for coastal weather, Dougherty says.


Teacher Alice Olstedt says, “My room has two temperatures, hot and cold. Because the boilers are so outdated, they often have to be turned up high to get heat to all the classrooms but that makes it over 80 degrees in my room, and the only way to compensate is to open the windows, no matter how cold or stormy it is outside.


“Last year, if the wind blew just right, the window would leak. The water ran behind the wall, onto the floor below the window, under the floor tiles across the room and then leaked through the floor tiles to puddle under the desks and students’ feet.”


The district has spent $500,000 each of the past two years just patching up the most immediate problems.


Basement rooms that are now off limits to students show exceptional damage from cracked walls, leaks and water damage. A high-water mark rises about 1 foot up the wall and on rusted cabinets. Dougherty says it is not just a one-time mark, it is from continual flooding.


Seaside bond 2Over at Seaside High School, looking up at the gym ceiling, one sees it is covered in black metal patches that were placed there after a roof tie-down broke loose and impaled the floor. Luckily no one was injured.


Seaside Student Body President Kara Ipson says, “We currently attend a school that is slowly deteriorating. In just about every classroom, I can look up and see large brown spots due to leaking, as well as panels that have been taken out all together.


“Our technology is extremely out of date, with WiFi that cuts in and out while we work on assignments that are dependent on resources found on the internet.”


Seaside bond 3The outdated boiler and electrical system are in a constant state of upkeep. Head custodian Lonnie Lear can only access leaky pipes, encased in asbestos on a scooter board through small tunnels under the building.


Students concerned about their school being in a tsunami inundation zone created project called “Don’t Catch This Wave.”


Ipson says, “As I worked on the Don't Catch This Wave project last year, oriented around spreading the word about the dangers that we face as a high school, I developed a passion for moving our schools. There are so many difficulties that our school is up against, and I believe that a new school is very long overdue. The students in the Seaside School District are ready to learn in a safer environment.”


Seaside bond 4The cost


The time to build new schools is now, organizers say, because low interest rates give more value than bonds at other school districts. The $1.35 per $1,000 of assessed property values would generate $99.7 million. Astoria School District’s bond of $1.69 generates only $21.5 million.


With this bond, the average cost for a $200,000 home would be approximately $270 a year or $22.50 a month. A $300,000 home owner would pay $405 a year or $33.75 per month.


Roley says, “One of the reasons our students have thrived has always been the tremendous community support they receive. Support in having new schools will be good for everyone.”