Ballots Due For Eastmont $117 Million Bond & NCW School Levies Feb. 13th
Ballots for the February Special Election on Feb. 13th are in voters hands and a number of school funding issues are at stake.
The majority of the requests are replacement levies but the largest request is a second attempt to pass a major funding request in the Eastmont School District in the span of 15 months.
Voters in the Eastmont School District will decide the fate of a $117.1 million Capital Projects Bond.
Supt. Becky Berg describes the bond request as a responsible, trimmed down approach to update or replace aging facility needs after voters rejected a $185 million bond request in Nov. of 2022.
Berg says the bond proposal before voters in '22 tried to address as many issues as possible. "To do really comprehensive work across the district, kind of a chicken in every pot theory, with athletics with a transportation center with some fixes at Sterling, some fixes at the junior high. And then a single point of entry at every school as well as our four oldest schools."
Berg says while a slim majority approved (51%), the supermajority 60% threshold was not met. "So we weren't happy that we didn't pass the super majority, but we know the voters were sending us some kind of message."
The Eastmont District received feedback from 1,400 constituents who indicated their priorities and the revised bond proposal reflects that. Berg says a combination of rainy day funds and leftover COVID funds were tapped to address items included in the failed proposal like a new athletic track and lighting improvements at Eastmont High School. Other items like a transportation center was not a priority according to the public feedback and was stripped from the scaled back bond before voters next month and would be best addressed when a long term facilities plan is undertaken in Berg's view.
What Does The Eastmont Capital Projects Bond Pay For?
The measure would fund renovations and expansions at Lee, Cascade, Kenroy and Rock Island elementary school buildings.
The design of Cascade and Kenroy schools present security dangers with separate buildings and exterior doors. Portable classrooms are also a security concern and many are at or past their usable time span. Berg points out there are a combined 162 exterior doors at Lee, Cascade and Kenroy elementary buildings.
The bond would allow for safer drop-off and student pick-up areas and renovations will better accommodate technology upgrades for student learning.
HVAC and plumbing systems are considered past their serviceable lifetime and have become more costlier to repair and maintain. The four elementary campuses average age exceeds 60 years system upgrades are included in the funding package.
Berg says if voters approve the Capital projects bond in February's special election, voters will see the same combined tax rate as 2023 of $2.92 per 1,000 of assessed property value. The district will have a renewal of the levy this November that funds items not covered by the state.
Voters could see that $2.92 rate per $1,000 reduced as more property value is added, for instance, Microsoft plans to add additional server farms in the area. Berg says the figures do not factor in any potential commercial development. If voters give the measure a 60% super majority approval, the State of Washington would provide a $20 million supplement to the funding package.
NCW School Levies Seeking Voter Approval Feb. 13th
Voters will also be asked to approve several educational and operations levies in North Central Washington.
- Brewster, Bridgeport, Mansfield and Waterville School Districts are asking voters to approve expiring Educational Programs and Operational Levies with a four year replacement levy starting in 2025
- Waterville School District is also requesting a renewal of a four year Capital Levy for safety, technology and facility improvements.
- Lake Chelan voters are voting on a four year replacement Capital Levy for educational and technology upgrades.
- Two year levies are up for renewal in the Orondo and Coulee-Hartline School Districts to fund education, operations and enrichment.
Levies require a simple majority for passage.
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