Thursday, December 3, 2015

LWSD School Board accepts Task Force recommendations

Bond Advisory Committee to provide feedback on district’s short and long term funding strategy

Redmond, Wash. – School board member Chris Carlson called the Long Term Facilities Task Force’s recommendations “spectacular, very useful to us.” At its November 23 regular meeting, the Lake Washington School District Board of Directors unanimously approved those recommendations and charged Superintendent Traci Pierce with taking action on them.  

               Referring to the Task Force’s nearly yearlong efforts, Board Vice President Nancy Bernard noted, “It was a huge commitment on their part but extremely valuable and has given us a pathway to move forward.”
               The district has begun to implement the Task Force’s recommendations. For example, the school board adopted a legislative platform including the Task Force’s recommendations concerning school construction sales tax and the state school construction funding assistance formula.
               One next step addresses the Task Force’s recommendation that the district build new schools to accommodate its rapidly growing enrollment. Several Task Force strategies involve efficiency and cost-effectiveness. It provided strategies to lower costs, such as specific cost-effective design principles. Throughout the report, the Task Force recommended ways to increase community engagement in district facilities efforts.
               Dr. Pierce has convened a Bond Advisory Committee to provide feedback and advice to the Superintendent on a short-term and long-term funding strategy and project timing plan that is aligned to the Task Force recommendations. The Advisory Committee includes parent and community representatives including members of the Task Force, business and city government representatives.
               While impact fees and state construction assistance can provide some funding to build new schools, a bond measure is the district’s primary option to provide adequate funding. State construction assistance, for example, is only awarded once the district has secured full funding via a bond measure or other means. That source provides only a small portion of the funds needed per school.
               The 63-person Task Force’s final recommendations, accepted by the Board, addressed the issues of classroom capacity and aging schools in a rapidly growing school district. The Task Force's report was presented to the Board of Directors at its November 9 meeting. The Task Force report recommends the district build more schools to meet growing classroom needs, with further guidance on how to approach building. Updating or replacing aging schools should focus on those schools that can also add more classrooms.
           LWSD’s enrollment has grown by an average of 625 students each year over the last five years. The Task Force recommended a list of specific projects to meet the district’s needs through 2029-30, while also suggesting potentially innovative projects to explore.

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