By Susan Wilkins
The Lake Washington School District states that its $755,000,000 bond measure, Prop 3, will cost taxpayers 53 cents per thousand in assessed value. This statement is true for 2015-2018 when only a fraction of the bonds have been sold and the district is collecting only $18 million per year. As all bonds are sold over the next 6 years, the district will collect more and more each year so property taxes will increase substantially. Read More >>
The principal ($755,000,000) and interest ($535,000,000) on the 2014 bonds are projected to cost $1.29 Billion (with a B) by the district. (The interest & payment info was obtained through a public records request to the district.) The Lake Washington School District will need to collect an average of $52 million each year from 2019 through 2041 when the bonds are retired. In order to collect $52 million/year, homeowners will be taxed $1.55/thousand – about 3 times the 53 cents the district says it will cost. Take note of how the school district carefully only states what it will cost from 2015 through 2018. Annual taxes from the bonds on a $500,000 house will eventually be $775, not $265.
Voters should also realize that we still owe $627 million (P&I) for bonds issued in 1998, 2006 and 2012 that won't be fully paid off until 2029. These older bonds already cost taxpayers an average of $42 million per year, or about $625/year for a $500,000 house.
BONDS MEASURE WILL ONLY PROVIDE 180 CLASSROOMS
There are 150 portables in use across the district: 91 at elementary schools, 43 at middle schools and 16 at high schools. The bond measure will barely provide enough space to get our students out of portables. And the district is expecting 4000 more students. This bond measure provides too little space!
BONDS WON'T CREATE PROMISED SPACE IN ELEMTARY SCHOOLS
This year, overcrowding was so extreme in the elementary schools that the district used 91 portable. (Some portables were used for music, art, counseling - but most were used as regular classrooms.) The bond measure will add only 3 new elementary schools to the entire district. The new schools will be designed for 550 students (1650 total.) Even if these new schools were to open tomorrow, there would still be students in portables.
2013-2014 Elementary classroom & student counts
Total students: 13,090
Permanent capacity: 11,000
Overcrowding: -2,090 (students in district's 90 portables or overfilled classrooms)
New schools: +1,650 (three new schools @ 550 students/school)
ALL of our elementary schools are full or overcrowded - even after nearly 2000 sixth graders were moved to the middle schools.
When the state fund all-day kindergarten in 2017-18, the district will need space for another 400-500 ADK students across the district.
When families move into the 600 new houses in North Redmond or into the 1500 new apartment and condo units in downtown Redmond or into all the houses/condos in Kirkland and Sammamish, ALL of the district's elementary schools in the will be full and severely overcrowded. The overcrowding will be extreme and will last for years. How is this good for children? How many will never spend a day in a real classroom? How many will have 35 students in their classrooms? When will the district decided to double shift?
Voters should REJECT proposition 3 and tell the district to come back in 2015 with a bond measure that is less expensive and builds critically needed space for our elementary students.