Issaquah School District considers $228 million bond

May 24, 2011

By Laura Geggel

Though far from complete, the 2012 Issaquah School District bond has something for all of the district’s 24 schools, making the work-in-process price $228.6 million.

The proposal also includes remodeled or expanded schools for Apollo, Clark, Issaquah Valley and Sunny Hills elementary schools, Issaquah Middle School, and Liberty and Tiger Mountain Community high schools.

The bond proposal suggests the district tear down Tiger Mountain and Clark, and move the students to a remodeled building where Issaquah Middle School is now. The two schools would be close, but not connected, Associate Superintendent Ron Thiele said, with the Tiger move costing about $3.9 million and the Clark move costing about $19.5 million.

In the meantime, the district would build a new, two-story Issaquah Middle School where Clark and Tiger are now; that would cost about $62.5 million.

“This is the biggest project on the bond,” Thiele said.

The proposed bond also shows several trends — switches from carpet to rubber flooring, three new artificial-turf fields and two rain shields for outdoor play areas.

The five steps to a bond

Every district bond goes through five steps.

For the proposed 2012 bond, district officials tracked maintenance needs — such as roofing, carpets and paint — and created a list called a springboard.

The district then formed a committee that added and removed items from the springboard. From March to April, a committee of parents, principals, students, business representatives, senior citizens and community members discussed each item on the springboard.

In one instance, the committee voted to remove $4.42 million in new portable classrooms added in case the state begins requiring full-day kindergarten. Given the current budget deficit of $5.1 billion, the committee decided that the state would probably not require full-day kindergarten, Associate Superintendent Ron Thiele said.

In another instance, the committee added a remodel of the Maple Hills Elementary School office, costing a projected $35,000. The remodel would give office staff a view of the front door, helping the school’s safety monitoring.

The committee unanimously approved the bond proposal April 26, allowing the bond to move to its third phase: the superintendent’s review.

Superintendent Steve Rasmussen attended all of the committee’s meetings, and he will spend the next month analyzing and possibly changing the proposal before he presents it to the school board in June.

Rasmussen, with a team of administrators, will examine the original springboard, the committee’ proposal, the feasibility of voters’ approval and the taxpayers’ burden.

He will make a recommendation to the board, which will review the proposed bond this summer. By fall, the board will decide whether to put the bond before voters, likely in February or April.

In the fifth and final step, voters will have their say. The bond needs a supermajority of 60 percent to pass. Voters passed the most recent district bond with a 68 percent approval rating in 2006 for a bond of $241.8 million.

The more the district can collect in voter-approved bond money, the less it has to rely on its general fund to pay for maintenance, Rasmussen said. Bond money can only be used for school construction or repair. On the other hand, the general fund pays for items including teacher salaries and school supplies. If the district does not have bond money, it will have to dip into its general fund to fix malfunctioning buildings.

“We want to make sure we have quality schools for kids,” he said.

No matter the state of the economy, parents and the community expect Issaquah to have the best schools, programs and teachers for students, and the bond can help the district do that, he added.

Items on the list

Though still fluid, the committee’s bond proposal adds a number of renovations to the district.

Apollo Elementary School and Beaver Lake, Maywood, Pacific Cascade and Pine Lake middle schools would each get a new artificial-turf field, costing $1.3 million apiece. All of those schools have muddy fields in winter, making them temporarily unusable.

Although an elementary school, Apollo was added to the list because few schools in the southern part of the district have a synthetic field, and the district wanted that community to have equal access to fields when school was not in session, Thiele said.

The artificial fields will help finances in the long term, saving money on custodial work and maintenance, such as mowing, watering, fertilizing and aerating.

The proposed bond also includes new rubber floors for areas in 10 schools across the district. The rubber — already installed at the new Issaquah High School — lasts longer than carpet, is quieter to walk on than vinyl and is easy to clean, Thiele said.

The proposed bond would also improve Skyline’s athletic space. Many of the benches on the school’s homeside bleachers have snapped at the base. School staff members have removed the broken bleachers, meaning fans have to stand during games. The bleachers also have no rain cover.

With the bond, Skyline would convert its homeside bleachers to visitors’ seating, receive a rain cover for its new homeside seating and get a larger press box, more bathrooms, concessions and weatherproof storage, costing $6.8 million.

The project would make Skyline on par with the other high schools, one of the missions of the bond.

“There was a big discussion about equity,” Thiele said. “You should have equal facilities.”

Laura Geggel: 392-6434, ext. 241, or lgeggel@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

On the Web

See the bond proposal online at www.issaquah.wednet.edu and click on “Bond feasibility and development committee.”

Get involved

Email thoughts or suggestions about the proposed 2012 bond to bond2012@issaquah.wednet.edu.

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