Months before election, school district bond campaign gears up

November 29, 2011

By Tom Corrigan

Voters will have until April 17 to decide the fate of a $219 million capital bond issue supporting the Issaquah School District.

Still, those running the bond campaign are starting to put the groundwork for it in place.

In the meantime, the Issaquah School Board approved the ballot language for the measure at its regular meeting Nov. 9.

The question asks voters to approve the sale of bonds to support various capital improvement projects in the district. The projects listed in the actual ballot include the rebuilding of Clark Elementary and Issaquah Middle schools. The language also addresses the relocation and expansion of Tiger Mountain Community High School.

Those projects are the largest, and possibly most controversial, included in the bond package. In the original bond program proposed by Superintendent Steve Rasmussen, the total cost of the interrelated projects was given as $86 million.

The ballot language also mentions improving “districtwide heating/ventilation, space and security; make usability improvements to curricular/athletic fields and stadiums; and make other improvements.”

On the Web

Learn more at www.visvote.org or the Issaquah School District website, www.issaquah.wednet.edu.

Athletic field improvements proposed for Skyline, Issaquah and Liberty high schools, along with artificial turf and new rubberized running tracks for district middle schools, is another plan likely to draw some criticism.

Kelly Munn is a co-chair of Volunteers for Issaquah Schools, which will run the bond campaign. The school board initially planned to put the bond issue on a February ballot; VIS asked them to postpone the public vote until April, allowing the committee more time to sell the issue.

Munn said her committee began to meet weekly in August.

“Right now, we are still in the building mode,” she said.

They are looking for volunteers to take on various tasks, such as organizing the printing and distribution of yard signs or campaign buttons. Munn said an important need is someone to identify a teacher and a PTA representative from every building in the district, a representative willing to help promote the bond.

Munn said the committee also is trying to set a budget for the coming campaign. Planners have decided on their basic strategy, a decision that increased the price of the campaign.

The committee first considered what’s known as a “stealth campaign,” one aimed at people who promoters are certain will vote in favor of the issue and making sure those people cast their ballots, Munn said. An alternative approach attempts to sell the issue to the public as a whole. Despite the fact it is the more expensive — and probably the more difficult — of the two options, planners decided to go with the broad-based approach.

While the district cannot directly take sides in the campaign, school officials can provide information. Executive director of communications for the district, Sara Niegowski said she would place a link to bond information on the district’s website by the end of the month.

Tom Corrigan: 392-6434, ext. 241, or tcorrigan@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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