$600 million bond & $96m Levy will be before voters in February

by Kirsten Johnson | Updated October 19, 2019.

Edmonds School District board members say a $600 million bond that voters will be asked to approve in February, is “imperative” in order to replace, build and upgrade aging infrastructure throughout the district.

“The schools that are on the bond — Spruce Elementary for example — the original building is from 1961,” said board member Ann McMurray. “Oak Heights (Elementary) was 1967, Beverly (Elementary) was 1963 and College Place Middle School was built in 1970. So you can see these buildings have outlived their useful lives really … the district over the years has done some remodels to keep them going but it’s really time for these buildings to be replaced.”

The board approved the six-year, capital construction bond during an Oct. 8 board meeting.

Bond money would be used to replace College Place Middle, Oak Heights and Beverly elementary schools completely; make improvements to Spruce Elementary; build both a new elementary and middle school; and build a new “Innovative Learning Center” to host Scriber Lake High School and other learning programs, according to a district news release.

Board members told the Lynnwood Times that the district currently operates with 41 portables which lack running water and stress multi-use areas of existing buildings.

New school buildings would allow the district to move to a 6-8 grade configuration to “agree with all our surrounding school districts” and align with state standards, board member Gary Noble said in an email. Noble also said that new buildings would help appease overcrowding and improve safety — they would come with a number of safety upgrades including video surveillance and improved sight lines.

The board also approved during its meeting a four-year, $96 replacement technology/capital levy. The levy would be used to fund technology for student learning such as one-to-one computers in grades 2-12 and two-to-one computers for grades K-1. Just over a third of the levy money would be used for capital facilities improvements such as safety, security and emergency preparedness improvements at every school in the district, the release said.

The district says that the tax rate for patrons would remain the same — new bonds would be issued as older bonds are paid off. The current tax rate is $3.76 per $1,000 of assessed property value. That rate will change to $3.69 per $1,000 of assessed value in 2020, which is projected to remain the same for the duration of the bond.

“So it’s continuing to be able to build schools at an even level,” said board President Diana White. “So we hope that the public continues to see the value in having their tax (dollars) support our schools.”

Those who are opposed to the bond “I would encourage to go visit two schools — one of those on the proposed bond and a brand new one,” McMurray added. “And just see for themselves the difference and think about having their child or grandchild go to a school built in 1961 versus 2018. Where would they want them to go? And if they say the new building, then we as a community have to be willing to support our kids.”

The bond and levy will appear on the Feb. 11 ballot. To promote both measures, the district will be hosting several community meetings in the coming months, dispersing informational flyers and launching a campaign with the help of its support group, Citizens for Schools.

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