School bond could influence growth

first_imgRidgefield schools bond voteo When: Feb. 14, 2012o Cost: $47 million over 20 years; for households, $1.73 per $1,000 assessed valuation of home.o Pays for: Infrastructure, safety improvements for Ridgefield’s four schools.Eight years ago, when Corwin Beverage searched for a location to build a modern facility with increased storage space for its soft drink distribution business, Ridgefield’s combination of land availability and its location off Interstate 5 sold company officials.Since relocating its facilities from Vancouver and Kelso to Ridgefield in 2003, the company has relied on the area to supply it with entry-level workers, many of whom are fresh out of high school. While not a chief determining factor in Corwin Beverage’s relocation, school district quality remains important to the “blue collar” business — not only does it hire local workers, but it often promotes within, said Heidi Schultz, vice president of human resources.“The schools aren’t going to be a deal-breaker for a distribution warehouse,” she said, “but it’s an attractive benefit.”That’s probably good news for Ridgefield, population 4,763.The city is on the verge of tremendous business and population growth over the next 20 years, thanks to land availability along I-5, officials say. However, the promise of ample space and opportunity along the corridor runs contrary to the realities found in the city’s school district, where facilities are overcrowded, outdated and in desperate need of a facelift, according to school officials.In February, Ridgefield’s school district will attempt to pass a $47 million bond to upgrade its four schools over the next 20 years. If the bond passes, residents would pay $1.73 per $1,000 of assessed valuation on their home.A bond failure would not ultimately slow business growth in Ridgefield any more than the recession already has, but it could cause some companies second thoughts about moving there, Clark County business leaders say. It could also put Ridgefield, which has passed only two school bonds in the past 20 years, at a competitive disadvantage.last_img

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