Edmonds School District considering $230 million-plus school bond for February 2014

mascotsIs it time to pass a new school bond in the Edmonds School District?

A new $230-million to $245-million bond for capital projects is being proposed to fund replacements for three aging schools in the Edmonds School District, capacity for full-day kindergarten, and a class-size reduction for primary grades.

Superintendent Nick Brossoit discussed the proposed bond during a roundtable discussion attended by several dozen stakeholders and community members Wednesday, Sept. 18 at the school district offices in Lynnwood.

District officials are expected to make a recommendation to the Edmonds School Board during its Oct. 8 meeting on whether they should pursue the idea.

The additional taxes would be roughly $100 a year on a house valued at $300,000, if the bond is set at $230 million, according to district estimates.

The bond would replace Lynndale Elementary ($30 million), Alderwood Middle School ($55 million) and Madrona K-8 ($50 million), enable the addition of classrooms for full-day kindergarten and reduce class sizes in primary grades. Two classrooms are being made available for full-day kindergarten in at Spruce Elementary next year, but there is no extra room beyond that, Brossoit said.

The suit brought by school districts against the state for not fully funding education was upheld by the state Supreme Court in the McCleary decision in January 2012. While it is expected that will result in more state funding, space for things like full-day kindergarten are up to school districts to provide.

The school board can decide to put a bond on the ballot in February 2014 or 2015, or do nothing. A 60-percent supermajority would be required to pass the bond. A four-year maintenance and operations levy will be on the February 2014 ballot; voters passed the last Maintenance and Operations levy in 2010.

The district last approved a bond for capital projects in 2006, worth $140 million, which funded a new Lynnwood High School and a new Meadowdale High School, which both opened on time and on budget according to the district.

Executive Director of Business Operations Stewart Mhyre

District taxpayers are still paying taxes for the 2006 bond and will be for at least several more years, the district’s executive director of business operations Stewart Myrhe said.

The district is continuing to get feedback from people who live within in its boundaries before it makes its recommendation to the Board about the new bond, district officials said.

How much the economic climate is improving and how quickly is a matter of debate between economic experts, but the district is aware that a significant number of people, including homeowners, are still unemployed or underemployed. “The economy is starting to come back but not very fast,” Brossoit said.

The district does have some surplus property that it did not sell earlier that is still for sale, but it is unlikely that it will get as much money now as would have before the economy tanked in 2007, district officials said. They include the Alderwood South property on 52nd Avenue West, the Lynnwood City Center property across from the Lynnwood Convention Center near I-5, the Melody Hill property and the Evergreen School property in Mountlake Terrace near 236th Street Southwest.

A new Costco will likely be built next year at the old Lynnwood High School site across from Alderwood Mall, along with a large mixed-use development. The district is expecting to eventually receive $1.2 million annually from the lease of the property from Dallas-based Cypress Equities once all the building is completed, Mhyre said.

– By Tony Dondero

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