Lake Washington schools may make quick decision on new bond
February 28, 2014
By Ari Cetron
New: Feb. 28, 1:57 p.m.
The Lake Washington School Board is trying to decide what to do after its bond measure failed last month, and it looks like voters could have some sort of bond placed before them again this year.
The proposed $755 million bond received 57.8 percent approval — a ringing endorsement in almost any other election — but bonds need 60 percent to pass.
Two levy votes also on the ballot were approved.
The board met Feb. 24 to discuss the bond, said Kathryn Reith, district spokeswoman. Even with the bond’s failure, the district needs to find a way to accommodate the projected 4,000 new students coming over the next few years.
Officials are concerned that if they don’t begin construction on new facilities soon, they won’t have ways to make reasonable accommodations for those students. And without a bond, it will be difficult to have enough funds to complete the projects.
Reith explained there are several options available to the board. It’s permitted to present the exact same bond once more in the calendar year – there are three more elections dates in April, August and November – and hope it get more support the second time around. The board could also propose a different bond measure.
Either way, they may have to make a decision quickly. The deadline for placing an item on the April ballot is March 7. If the vote is delayed until one of the other elections, officials are concerned it could set back their construction schedule.
Owing to the time crunch, the board expects to hear two options at its March 3 meeting. One would be to run the original bond again. The other option involves a smaller bond.
Reith said the board asked to be presented with a bond that basically covers half of the original bond. In general, it would cover new construction and the renovation of Juanita High School.
The demolition and reconstruction of several schools, which had drawn sharp criticism from some in the community, would be left out this time around.
The board could also decide that the time frame is too short, and opt not to place anything on the April ballot, instead taking more time to decide how to proceed.
This marks the second time in recent years the district has failed to pass a bond. In 2010, a $234 million bond measure failed, getting about 55.6 percent of the vote. The district came back with a $65.4 million construction levy in 2011, which passed.