UPDATE - May 1, 2016
Fourth time’s a charm: The Lake Washington School District passed a nearly $400 million construction bond last week after three failed attempts. Elsewhere in King and Snohomish counties, school-funding measures in the Issaquah, Vashon Island and Everett school districts also passed, but bonds in Kent and Marysville fell short.
At the end of April, the families of the Lake Washington School District (LWSD) will find out if a much needed school bond has passed. The LWSD community has not passed a school bond measure for 4 years - yes, you read that correctly,4 years! The district has passed several school levies (renewals) during that time, but no large bond to fund new construction and upgrade many of the existing schools.
The district serves the communities of Kirkland, Redmond and part of Sammamish and is home to many well-regarded schools including the U.S. News and World Report number one ranked school in Washington State - International Community School . The area contains the large Google office complex, is very commutable to corporate headquarters of Microsoft, Nintendo's campus and downtown Bellevue plus several public transportation hubs to downtown Seattle. This area offers housing across many price points and communities including lakefront to suburban neighborhoods and acreage.
In one year, LWSD has grown from the sixth largest district in the state to the fourth largest in the state. They are anticipating by 2020-21 the district will enroll over 30,000 students. As of September 2016, 14% of classroom space across the district is held in portable buildings equaling 168 portables!
The bond measure includes:
Two new elementary schools, one new middle school, much needed rebuild and enlargement of Juanita high school, rebuild and enlarge Kirkland middle school, rebuild and enlarge the very dated Mead elementary school. Funds would also be allocated to remodel the Old Redmond School House for a district preschool and replace the portables at Explorer Community school and provide special education space to address Title IX and the Americans with Disability Act.
The $398 million bond measure would maintain the 2015 tax rate. As past construction levies are paid off, these bonds would replace those items. This measure is part of a long-term plan to meet the district's needs through 2029-30. Three subsequent bond measures will be up for vote in the following years to meet the longer-term needs of the district. As of now, the district is stating the subsequent measures would also maintain the 2015 tax rate.
Families of school age children are working hard to get the word out on the urgent need for funds to support their schools. Community support for their schools is just one component to keep in mind when moving to a new area and viewing the history of bonds and levies is the recommended starting point.