Tuesday, January 26, 2016

LWSD School Board seeks funding for more schools, classrooms

Bond measure to be placed on April 26 ballot
Redmond, Wash. – Lake Washington School district is growing rapidly. In fact, it has grown from the sixth largest district to the fourth largest district in the state since last year. The district has grown by over 3200 students in the last five years. That’s an average of over 625 students per year for the last five years, which is equivalent to five large elementary schools. Growth is projected to continue, reaching over 30,000 students by 2020-21 and over 32,000 students by 2029-30.
To meet these growing needs for classroom space, the district’s board of directors voted on January 25 to place a bond measure on the April 26 ballot. This measure, for $398 million in 20-year bonds, would fund the most immediate, high priority needs. The total tax rate will be maintained at the 2015 rate.
“Our district is at a critical point with regard to classroom space,” noted Board President Nancy Bernard. “Moving to all-day kindergarten and reducing class sizes thanks to new state funding increases our need for more classroom space. At the same time our enrollment continues to grow.”
The measure would build one new middle school and two new elementary schools and would rebuild and enlarge three schools (Juanita High School, Kirk and Mead Elementary Schools). It would also replace the Explorer Community School classrooms and refurbish the Old Redmond Schoolhouse for use by preschool classes.  Read More >>

These projects are among those identified by the district’s Long Term Facilities Planning Task Force. This citizen-based 63-member group spent nearly a year analyzing the district’s facility needs, engaging the community and developing recommendations including specific construction projects needed through the 2029-30 school year as well as strategies for efficient and cost-effective facility designs.
“Our community is very supportive of our schools,” noted Dr. Traci Pierce, superintendent. “They also want to be assured their tax dollars are being well spent. The Long Term Facilities Planning Task Force developed a road map that will provide students with productive learning environments while keeping a close watch on costs.”
A separate advisory committee provided feedback on a funding plan to carry out the Task Force recommendations. This bond measure is the first of four projected measures. Three subsequent measures, in 2018, 2022 and 2026 would fund the longer-term needs. They would also maintain the 2015 tax rate. The funding plan is designed to be comprehensive, responsible, cost-conscious and fiscally disciplined. It is designed to reduce the district’s reliance on portable classrooms. By the end of the 2016-17 school year, 14% of district classrooms will be in portables.
Complete information on the bond measure, including all projects, is available on the district website at www.lwsd.org.


Anonymous said...

Here we go again - our district is at a critical point with regard to classroom space. So they tear down and rebuilt three schools. Very expensive. Poor planning.

The district should be building new school buildings all over the district until there is enough space for 32,000 students and the portables have been removed from the school yards. Then the district can tear down and rebuild their existing schools.

I'm tired of the district demanding money for classroom space and then spending it on rebuilds and more portables. We need to replace the facilities planning department - all of them. They are half the problem.

Anonymous said...

The LWSD needs more funding -pure and simple- to accommodate the increase in population.

Until the city planners and mayor and developers can manage to stop building 6-story condominiums and small housing developments, the schools here are going to continue to get more crowded.

Don't blame the district-they are trying to accommodate.

Brent Schmaltz said...

I agree it's really is a planning issue. Impact fees are supposed to cover such items. but we are going to use them to turn RedmonWay back into a 2 way street instead of building schools. City of Redmond has spent well over 60 million downtown. We choose to keep the existing city planners, so we have to put up with them. They are not all bad, but LWSD is struggling. The State mandate to remove levies from the equation hasn't kicked in yet.

While I really dislike funding education using levies, this proposal seems more reasonable. I haven't locked in on it yet, but am not automatically saying no.