October 11, 2011
Complex school bond will challenge voters
The Issaquah School Board has postponed the vote for a school bond from February until April, at the request of the campaign committee. It was the right decision. It will take every minute from now until April to convince voters that this $219 million bond should be approved — or not.
Heading the list of controversies will be the $82 million to rebuild Clark Elementary and Issaquah Middle schools so the two student populations can then switch places. At the same time, Tiger Mountain Community High School, home to about 100 students, will also be relocated — another $3.9 million.
Then, there is the $13.1 million for the reconstruction and improvements of the football stadiums at Skyline, Liberty and Issaquah high schools. Voters will have to decide if more and covered bleacher seats are a priority.
The district is recommending a change to artificial-turf fields and rubberized running tracks at the five middle schools, at $1.3 million per school. Girls won’t be left out — two softball fields will also get artificial turf, two for under $1 million.
Sunny Hills Elementary School will get a rebuild for $27 million while Apollo and Issaquah Valley elementary schools will each get about $7-8 million for their remodels. Of course, the schools will then be energy efficient, so some savings are in store down the road. The rebuilds/remodels will also add capacity for about 500 students, spread out among four schools.
The school board did decrease the superintendent’s recommended bond by 3.7 percent, but only time will tell whether that is enough.
The five school board members struggled for months with the decision of what to ask of voters on this bond. Now it’s up to the voters to struggle with an even tougher question — are these the right priorities for our district and can property owners afford it?
Time will tell.