From time to time it is fun to look back in the Kirkland Views archives to see what was "news and views" a few years ago ('The Views' started in April, 2008 but our archives only go back to 2010). This time, we look to November 2009 when the Lake Washington School Board approved two levies and a bond, in part to modernize Juanita High School. The plan was met with mixed reviews by the voters. We can expect school funding to be on the ballot again soon. Let us hope that the plan set forth by the school district will be one which is acceptable to the community.
The following was published November 23, 2009:
At its November 23 meeting, the Lake Washington School District Board of Directors, unanimously approved resolutions for three funding measures to place on the February 9 ballot. The measures are four-year Educational Programs and Operations Levy, a four-year Capital Projects Levy including both facilities and technology items, and a new bond measure. The bond would modernize Juanita High School, provide space for expected enrollment growth as well as enable the district to move to four-year high schools.
The Educational Programs and Operations (EP&O) Levy would renew the current levy, which will expire at the end of 2010. This measure approves a specific amount that the district can collect. State law caps that amount. The total under the proposal ranges from $49.1 million in 2011 to $60.1 million in 2014. The first year’s total alone is the equivalent of the cost of 612 teachers.
The EP&O raises almost one fifth of the district’s operating budget (19%) and it actually pays for much of core items such as teacher training, textbooks, and transportation. Other costs paid for by the EP&O levy include teacher planning time, safety and security, and student activities and athletics. The total amounts would generate an estimated tax rate of $1.34 per thousand of assessed value in 2011 to $1.46 per thousand of assessed value in 2014.
The renewal Capital Projects Levy provides money to pay for building repairs and system replacements as well as technology replacement and upgrades. The facilities plan levy replaces major systems, like roofs, at appropriate times through the life of each school building. It also pays for safety and accessibility improvements and for water and energy conservation projects. The technology portion of the levy provides students equipment and software to help them learn, and gives teachers technology to provide a 21st century education. It includes technology replacement, infrastructure and training.
The cost of the capital projects levy renewal for both facilities and technology would range from $18.0 million in 2011 to $23.7 million in 2014. That amount is expected to generate a tax rate of between $.49 and $.58 per thousand of assessed value per year.
A new bond measure would prevent overcrowding, enable the district’s change to a four-year high school configuration and provide for equitable high school facilities. Growth projections show the district will grow by 1200 students by 2014, and 2500 students by 2020. The district will need two or more elementary schools by 2014. Expansion projects at Redmond and Eastlake High Schools and for the Environmental and Adventure School will provide space for the change in grade configuration for the district. Building at the secondary school level would relieve the need for even more elementary schools. Putting the modernization of Juanita High School in this measure now rather than in 2014 will bring it up to the standard of the other three high schools in the district. It would also take advantage of a favorable environment for construction costs and interest rates.
The cost of the new bond measure, which would raise $234 million, would cost $.32 to $.33 per thousand in assessed value. The total of all three measures would increase the total tax paid on a home with the average assessed value in the district from $1448 in 2010 to $1618 in 2011, or an increase of approximately $170.