KIRSTEN JOHNSON | February 6, 2020.
The Mukilteo School District is seeking this month approval of a $240 million capital bond to fund security upgrades, modifications/additions at several schools, among other projects.
The six-year bond would increase the state and local tax levy rate by 9.4 cents per $1,000 of taxable value, amounting to $54 for a $569,300 home (current average assessed home value within the City of Mukilteo for 2020). The bond would run from 2021 to 2026.
“Everyone wants the best for our students, regardless of the community you live in,” board President Michael Simmons told the Mukilteo Times. “And the best also means the buildings in which they learn and the buildings in which the teachers teach in — the quality of the environment in which they learn, dictates the quality of education.”
The district says it expects nearly 900 additional students to enroll over the next six years. Enrollment districtwide has already grown by more than 1,000 students over the past 12 years, according to online informational materials about the bond, and the area’s population is expected to swell an additional 20 percent by 2025.
Meanwhile, nearly 2,000 students districtwide are in portables and every school is either at or over capacity, the district says.
Of the $240 million bond amount, $160 million would fund “major modifications/additions” at schools including Challenger, Horizon and Discovery elementary schools, an addition at Mariner High School, and additions/partial replacements at Explorer Middle School and Mukilteo and Serene Lake elementary schools.
“Right now, 100% of our schools are at capacity and we have to address that,” Simmons said. “The bond is really preparing us No. 1 for the future and No. 2 to take those facilities and buildings we currently have and making sure they (serve as) … an environment that’s conducive for learning.”
About $52 million of money generated by the bond would be used to improve the HVAC, electrical and plumbing systems at several schools, improve roofing and flooring, and modernize/replace critical systems at the Kamiak Performing Arts Center.
Another $12 million of bond revenue would fund new integrated classroom door locks and interior emergency communication systems at all schools, along with automated access control systems and perimeter fencing enhancements.
About $13 million would be used for sports field replacements and upgrades and another $2 million would fund expansion of the district-owned fiber and wifi network and upgrades to data cable.
Information provided by the district shows that its total local tax rate per $1,000 — a number that includes bonds, capital/technology levies and enrichment levies — is lower than most all other surrounding districts.
On Facebook, some patrons inquired about whether bond revenue would be used to replace piping at Explorer Middle School. Patron Jim Tinsley posted a photo of discolored water on Facebook which he claimed was obtained from a drinking fountain at the school. Tinsley also testified at the board’s meeting last month about the water quality issue.
“I was a student (at Explorer) in the 90s and the water was that color then,” Tinsley told the Mukilteo Times.
Tinsley, who said he has four children enrolled in the district, said he supports the bond “begrudgingly.” He said he personally would prefer a larger bond — roughly double the current amount — that would fund more projects.
“But we have horrifically failing infrastructure,” Tinsley said. “So it’s a situation where, we have to pass something.”
When asked about the water quality at Explorer, Simmons said that the district has “engaged the health department” and that its “partnership with the health department is at or above the level where it should be.”
The water quality issue “has been raised in many forms,” Simmons said.
The district also said on its Facebook page that $30 million of the bond would partially replace Explorer Middle School and those new buildings would “include new pipes.” It said that “future bonds will be needed to replace the other buildings and pipes.” The district also said that it has “been reassured that the water (at Explorer) is safe” but it is utilizing filters on the drinking fountains to “improve taste and appearance.”
“We are also adding more large bottles of water for easy access for students so they can use the bottled water if they prefer,” the district said.
The election is Feb. 11. More information about the bond can be found at: https://www.mukilteoschools.org/Page/ 13863.