Design rendering of proposed new elementary school

Ridgefield School District’s Board of Directors voted unanimously on Tuesday to place a bond initiative consisting of two propositions before voters that, if passed, would build new schools to help alleviate overcrowding, accommodate population growth, modernize technical education opportunities for students, replace temporary, less secure and inefficient portable classrooms with permanent ones, and make necessary repairs and upgrades at the district’s older school sites. 

The comprehensive bond measure consists of two propositions that will appear on the April 23, 2024 Special Election ballot as Proposition 10 and Proposition 11. Each proposition requires a 60 percent supermajority in order to pass, and Proposition 11 can only pass if Proposition 10 passes. However, if it achieves the required 60 percent approval from voters, Proposition 10 can still pass even if Proposition 11 falls short.  

“In 2016, our volunteer Capital Facilities Advisory Committee outlined a comprehensive, four-stage construction plan to meet the needs of our growing community and student population,” said Brett Jones, president of Ridgefield School District’s Board of Directors. “Since then, the district has run several unsuccessful attempts at school construction bonds to build the schools outlined in this phased construction plan. While we’ve fallen just short of passing these bonds in our most recent attempts, the need for additional classroom space has only continued to grow.” 

The total local cost of the two bond propositions is $190 million, with tax collections beginning in 2025. If approved, the construction projects would be eligible for approximately $11.7 million in matching funds from the state’s construction assistance program. Included in the bond are the following projects. 

Proposition #10 ($70 million): All work projected to be complete by Fall 2025 

  • A new 75,000 square foot elementary school located at 7025 N. 10th Street
  • A 23,000 square foot expansion at Ridgefield High School with 10 general education classrooms and space designated for future College, Career, and Technical Education program classrooms
  • A new metals shop that meets current industry standards, allowing for students to practice the technical skills required for job eligibility upon graduation 
  • Roof repairs and replacements (including mechanical replacements) on the original buildings at Ridgefield High School, Union Ridge Elementary, and South Ridge Elementary

Proposition #11 ($120 million): All work projected to be complete by Fall 2026 

  • A new intermediate/middle school serving grades 5-8
  • An addition at Ridgefield High School, including a new wrestling room, a new locker room, and renovation of the existing locker rooms 
  • Ridgefield High School track and field re-surface (these facilities have an average 10-12 year lifespan and are due for scheduled replacement)
  • Playground expansions and accessibility updates at South Ridge Elementary and Union Ridge Elementary schools
  • Revisions to the Ridgefield High School band room to accommodate for the number of additional students participating in the school's music programs

The total school tax rate in 2024 for Ridgefield voters is projected to be $2.53 per $1,000 of assessed property value, which is currently the second-lowest school tax rate in Clark County. If Proposition #1 is approved by voters, the rate would increase to $3.11 in 2025, and if both propositions are approved, the new rate is projected to be $3.89 in 2025 when collections would begin. 

“The Ridgefield School District is committed to being responsive to the needs of our community and to being responsible stewards of public resources,” said Chris Griffith, interim superintendent for Ridgefield Schools. “We understand that there are community concerns about large construction projects, which is why the board and I are fully committed to forming a bond oversight committee to ensure that the district meets bond promises. If one or both of these propositions are approved by voters, the committee will be formed within a few months to help guide decisions and provide the public with reassurances and insight into the process.”

Ridgefield voters last approved a school construction bond in 2017. Since that time, district enrollment has increased by 1,199 students, the district’s aging buildings have required additional maintenance, and construction costs have risen sharply in the region.

The district has utilized school impact fees collected from construction developments to acquire the land needed to construct the schools outlined by the Capital Facilities Advisory Committee’s Report to the Board of Directors. The potential site of the new elementary school is a “construction ready” project that would be on track to open in time for the start of the 2025-26 school year.