Issaquah School District to request bond in February

June 28, 2011

By Laura Geggel

The Issaquah School Board has agreed to put a bond before voters Feb. 14.

Board members are still reviewing the contents and cost of the bond, but agreed to decide on both by late September, giving community supporters four months to campaign.

A bond is a property tax that pays for school construction and repairs. Money from bonds cannot be used for teacher salaries or for classroom supplies.

The last bond put before voters — a $241.87 million bond in February 2006 — passed with about 68 percent of the vote. All bonds need at least 60 percent approval to pass.

Some of the larger projects on the 2006 bond included the rebuilding of Issaquah High and Briarwood Elementary schools; the expansion of Skyline High School; the addition of Creekside Elementary School; and remodels at Maywood Middle and Liberty High schools.

District administrators had originally planned to ask voters for a bond in 2010, but decided to wait until 2012 because of the recession.

The proposed 2012 bond has projects for all of the district’s 24 schools, but the list has yet to be finalized.

The birth of a bond

The process of making a bond has five steps. First, district administrators create a springboard — a list of needs including what roofs need to be replaced and which boilers are broken. Second, a committee of community members examines the springboard and adds or subtracts items.

Third, the committee makes a recommendation to the superintendent, who reviews and changes the bond with recommendations from a team of administrators. Fourth, the superintendent recommends a modified bond to the school board.

In the fifth and final step, the board reviews and may alter a bond before it puts it to voters.

Superintendent’s recommendation

Schools Superintendent Steve Rasmussen recommended a $227.6 million bond to the school board at the June 22 board meeting. If passed, the bond is expected to take care of the district’s needs until 2020.

The recommendation is less expensive — at $228.6 million — than the one the committee presented to him in April.

If passed, the proposed bond would lower school property taxes, according to the district’s website. Currently, taxpayers pay $4.85 per every $1,000 of assessed property. With the new bond, taxpayers would pay $4.44 per $1,000, a savings of 41 cents. This would save a homeowner with a $500,000 assessed house $205 annually.

However, whether a homeowner pays less or more also depends on the assessed value of a property, which can increase or decrease.

If the bond does not pass, residents would see a larger drop in property taxes to 80 cents per $1,000 of assessed property, according to the district website.

The largest projects proposed so far on the 2012 bond include several school remodels.

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, adding that the Tiger move would cost about $3.9 million and the Clark move 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. The new buildings will be built efficiently. For example, it costs about 27 percent more to heat Issaquah Middle than it does to heat Pacific Cascade Middle School.

Sunny Hills Elementary School would also receive a remodel, and Apollo and Issaquah Valley elementary schools would receive classroom additions. Liberty High School is slated for a large remodel, costing $39.7 million, with an extra $4.8 million for stadium improvements. Skyline High School would receive a $6.4 million stadium update.

By installing turf fields at the five middle schools and Apollo, with each field costing $1.3 million, the district would save $180,000 annually in operating costs.

Get involved

Have an idea or an opinion about the bond? Email district administrators at bond2012@issaquah.wednet.edu.

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

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