Othello students 

Photo: Othello School District 

OTHELLO - Whether or not the Othello School District can quell it’s so-called “capacity crisis” will be up to the voters this February with a $51 million bond on the ballot.

On Monday, Othello’s school board approved a move to put a $51 million on the Feb. 8 ballot. The bond would the allow the district to upgrade certain facilities and most importantly, make more room for students. However, the district may have an uphill battle on its hands with the last bond passing 2007 and 2018 bond that was snubbed by voters. Bonds need a 60% supermajority to pass.

If approved by voters, the 2022 bond will provide financing to replace the 600 building at Othello High School with 21 modern classrooms (18 standard and 3 science classrooms). It would also allow a new gym to be built at the school, with capacity for the entire student body, up to 1,500 people.

"We are facing a capacity crisis at Othello High School. The 600 wing is functionally inadequate. Replacing it with modern classrooms will allow us to improve our program quality significantly, and the new gymnasium will give us greater ability to bring our students and community together for important events,” said Superintendent Pete Perez.

McFarland Middle School will be expanded to accommodate all OSD 6th grade students, freeing building capacity at each elementary school.

“The workgroup did an outstanding job identifying this as the most cost-effective way to address overcrowding at our elementary schools, without constructing a completely new school,” said Director of Maintenance and Capital Projects, Gregg Fultz.

The plan also includes new gymnasiums at Hiawatha, Lutacaga, and Scootney Springs elementary schools, equal to the more recently constructed Wahitis Elementary gymnasium. “This is an equity issue in our lower grades. Adding equal gyms at the three elementary schools will give those schools greater flexibility and improve the functional adequacy of their buildings,” said Fultz.

The plan includes a new food services central warehouse located away from the OHS campus. The new facility will have expanded cold and dry storage and will help increase operational efficiency in the food services department. “This has been a priority project for our District for several years. Relocating the food services warehouse and expanding capacity increases efficiency in that department. It also makes space available on the OHS campus for future expansion needs,” said Perez.

The $1.14 tax impact of the proposed bond would bring the total tax rate for Othello Schools to $4.31 per $1,000 in assessed value for 2023 through 2027.

The bond request will appear in the Feb. 8, 2022 election.

"Ballots are scheduled to be mailed to voters on January 24,” said Communications Director Ed Petersen. "We have information about the bond, the projects, and voter registration available on our website at www.OthelloSchools.org/Bond2022."