With ballots mailed out for the Feb. 11 special election, Edmonds School District voters will have to decide whether they want to approve a $600 million construction bond aimed at addressing projected increases in student enrollment.
The bond (Proposition 1) is the first of three proposals likely to come before voters between now and 2023 to address $1.7 billion worth of needs across the district, according to a district facilities and bond committee report.
If approved, the construction bond would fund:
- School facility renewals across the district, upgrade and program improvement projects ($57.2 million)
- Complete Phase 2 of the Spruce Elementary Replacement Project ($42.2 million)
- A new middle school on the former Alderwood Middle School campus ($130.5 million)
- Replacement of Oak Heights Elementary School ($61.6 million)
- Replacement of Beverly Elementary School ($65 million)
- Build a multi-level Innovative Learning Center that would be a new location for Scriber Lake High School and also house some ancillary programs that have not yet been determined ($47 million)
Additionally, a $96 million replacement technology/capital levy (Proposition 2) will appear on the ballot alongside the construction bond.
If approved, the technology levy would:
- Provide one-to-one computers in grades 2-12 and two students to one computer in grades K-1, along with online curriculum, other software systems and instructional systems. The levy would also support classroom technology, teacher training and support, and internet access to students who do not have internet at home ($35.6 million)
- Teacher continuing education and tech support ($6.1 million)
- Maintain staff computers, software and district administrative support systems. New and more efficient software systems for student information and HR finance ($9.2 million)
- Provide network infrastructure upgrades and security ($7 million)
District officials have been making their case to the community for receiving the 60% majority vote needed for approval. Superintendent Kris McDuffy briefed the Mountlake Terrace City Council during a presentation at its Jan. 6 business meeting.
However, since receiving their ballots, many voters have expressed concern about the effects such a large bond would have on their property taxes, said district spokesperson Harmony Weinberg.
According to the Snohomish County Assessor’s Office, Edmonds School District property owners in 2020 will pay $3.71 per $1,000 of assessed property value. Weinberg said the district is committed to not raising tax rates and is projecting rates will decrease to $3.69 per $1,000 of assessed value in 2021.
Though Weinberg said she understands voters’ reservations about the price tag, she stressed that the tax rate will not increase under the proposal.
“Yes, it’s $600 million, which sounds like a very large amount,” she said. “People keep thinking that $3.71 (per thousand) is going to jump and it’s not.”
To learn more about the propositions, visit the bond and levy page on the district’s website.
–By Cody Sexton