Funding measures provide for operating budget, costs of buildings
Redmond, Wash. – At its August 5 meeting, the Lake Washington School District Board of Directors voted to place two levies and one bond measure on the ballot in February 2014. The levies would replace current measures that expire at the end of 2014. The bonds would build schools to house projected enrollment growth and to replace existing aging schools.
The board reviewed information from community meetings, surveys and feedback from community partners. An advisory committee developed the measures considered by the board based on this information.
The first of the three measures, the Educational Programs & Operations Levy, will replace the expiring levy. It will cost $1.85 per thousand dollars of assessed value on each home in their property taxes. The EP&O levy funding makes up about 23 percent of the district’s general fund revenues. It provides funding for basic items such as textbooks, insurance, utilities and maintenance; teacher planning, preparation and training; and athletics and activities.
The proposed capital projects levy will replace an expiring levy to fund both facility and technology projects. The levy would cost 91 cents per thousand dollars of assessed value. This measure would raise:
· $21.2 million for building systems replacement & improvements, such as new roofs
· $4.8 million for site improvements, including athletic field and playground upgrades
· $9.3 million for school and program building improvements
· $6.3 million to for code, compliance, health and safety projects
· $20.7 million for technology infrastructure and support
· $28.5 million for technology equipment, including replacement of student computers on a four-year lifecycle
· $9.3 million for instructional software & support systems
· $8.8 million for business system & technology operations software and support
· $18.3 million for technology training and professional development
The bond measure would raise $755 million to build new schools needed to accommodate growth and to modernize existing schools. The new schools are needed based on the district’s projections of enrollment growth of 4,200 students over the next four years. Over the next eight years, the bond will enable the district to build new schools and space for students:
· three new elementary schools,
· one middle school,
· additions for Lake Washington and Eastlake High Schools,
· a STEM-focused high school on the west side of the district and
· an international-focused high school on the east side of the district.
The last two schools would enroll students from throughout the district.
The funds for modernization would replace three schools in Kirkland (Juanita High School, Kamiakin Middle School and Kirk Elementary School), two in Redmond (Evergreen Middle School and Rockwell Elementary School) and Mead Elementary School in Sammamish.
The overall tax rate with the replacement levies and the new bond measure would be $4.73 per $1000 of assessed value. The increase for the average valued home in Lake Washington School District would be $365 per year, or $30 per month.
The bond measure does not include funding to replace the Juanita High School pool; however, the scope of the Juanita High School modernization project does include replacement of the current field house and theater. Dr. Pierce noted that when asked to rank order priorities for potential additional funding for playgrounds and sports facilities, parents who were surveyed ranked the Juanita pool fourth out of five items. She stated that she does not want to see high school swim teams disappear and understands the desire of the community to keep the pool.
Dr. Pierce suggested that if the bond does pass, the school board could take action to dedicate money left from the Phase 2 modernization program to partner with cities or other organizations to build a new community pool. She estimates that $10 to $12 million will remain once all the school projects are completed. Read More >> This partnership model could follow other successful partnerships the district has with cities in its jurisdictions, which share costs and use of sports fields and could also include other interested stakeholder groups. Since the district uses the Juanita pool for mainly for high school swim teams, most use of the pool is by the community. She further noted that if the bond does not pass, all money left from the 2006 bond would be needed to provide solutions to overcrowded schools. If the bond does pass, the board could dedicate some of these funds toward partnerships that develop to address aquatics needs in the area.
Board Member Chris Carlson, whose three children are swimmers, outlined the limits that school districts face with regard to raising operating funds. He suggested that it makes more sense for a community pool to be managed by an entity like a city. Board Member Doug Eglington proposed that the board at its next meeting pass a resolution stating their intention to seek partnerships for community pool solutions.
The three measures will appear on the ballot for the, election.