Lake Washington voters to see bond, pair of levies
August 14, 2013
By Ari Cetron
New: Aug. 14, 11:14 a.m.
Voters in the Lake Washington School District will decide on two property tax levies and a bond measure in February 2014.
Initial polling data from the district shows levies that look likely to pass. The polling also shows the bond measure could pass, but it is within the poll’s margin of error.
At an Aug. 6 school board meeting, Deputy Superintendent Janeane Fogard presented basically the same information she had in June when she introduced the bond and levy packages.
If approved, the packages would fund school operations, help purchase new technology and pay for a laundry list of school construction projects.
The total cost would mean an additional 81 cents per $1,000 of property value. The owner of a $500,000 home would pay $405 per year more, starting in 2015.
Over the summer, officials conducted polls of district residents about the proposals. According to Fogard, 59 percent of those surveyed approve of the educational programs and operations levy, 62 percent favor the capital projects levy and 62 percent favor the bond. The polls have a margin of error of 5 percent.
A levy requires 50 percent approval, plus one vote, to pass, while a bond requires 60 percent.
District officials will use bond funding to build accommodations for a projected 4,200 new students by 2022. The bond cost is $755 million. The bond would add about 53 cents per thousand to property taxes for the next 20 years.
It would fund construction of three new elementary schools, a new middle school, or equivalent space, build an internationally-focused choice high school on the east side of the district, possibly in Sammamish, and a STEM- (science, technology, engineering and math) focused choice high school on the west side of the district.
It would also modernize and expand Juanita High School, and build additions at Lake Washington and Eastlake high schools.
Another six schools – Juanita High School; Kamiakan and Evergreen middle schools; and Kirk, Mead and Rockwell elementary schools – would be modernized.
Three schools that had been scheduled for modernization on this bond – Alcott, Wilder and Smith elementary schools – have been pushed back and will likely appear on a bond in 2022.
The two levies are to replace existing levies that will expire at year’s end. Each levy would last for four years.
The first is a standard Educational Program and Operations Levy. This levy funds basic school district operations, including things like teacher salaries and other day-to-day expenses.
The levy is used to make up the difference between the amount of money the state gives the district and the amount it actually costs the district to operate.
The existing levy costs property owners $1.78 per $1,000, and the replacement would increase that to $1.85.
A proposed $41.6 million levy for facilities and technology, replacing two existing levies, will cost 91 cents per $1,000, a 21-cent increase from the existing levies.
This levy would fund a number of capital projects, generally major renovations. Some include behind-the-scenes projects, like working on fire alarms, ventilation and hot water systems. The district would spend $21.2 million on these projects.
Another part of this levy would spend $4.8 million on upgrading playfields and athletic facilities. It also includes $9.3 million for adding and replacing portable classrooms, and another $6.3 million to bring buildings up to code, improve traffic flow and install identification card systems for entrances at all sites.
The rest of the levy is for technology. It would call for $85.6 million to fund replacement of aging computer systems and computer networks, and replace classroom computers and other classroom technology. It would also fund the purchase of instructional software, business and technology systems and additional staff training.