How much will these projects cost?
The 20-year bond is for $116 million. The total project cost is $146 million—$116 million in local funds and $30 million in state construction assistance funds. The approximate bond rate per $1,000 of assessed value is an increase of $1.21.
We will maximize $30 million in state construction assistance funds to minimize the costs to our taxpayers. Remember, voters approve tax amounts ($116 million), not tax rates ($1.21 per $1,000 of assessed value). The majority of the Lake Stevens tax base is made up of homes with a very small business community. We understand that this puts more of a burden on residential taxpayers. The Board of Directors was very cognizant of this when determining the amount of the bond. Over the past three years, we have refinanced portions of the 2005 and 2006 bonds that resulted in decreased interest payments. The combined refinances will save taxpayers a total of $3.3 million over the life of the bonds.
The new school will be designed to house 550 students, but core spaces like the cafeteria, gymnasium and parking lots will be able to accommodate well over 600 students. The square footage of the new school will also be larger than our current elementary schools.
The earliest we can build and open a new elementary school is the 2017-18 school year. Even with this new school, our elementary schools will still be crowded. However, this new school will reduce elementary enrollment throughout the district. As we progress in the construction process, a boundary committee will be formed to determine, with board approval, which students will attend the new elementary school.
Our current Early Learning Center (ELC) runs our Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) and our Developmental Preschool Program and is adjacent to Hillcrest Elementary School. The ELC is housed in a modular building that was designed as a temporary alternative high school. It is not conducive to the early learning needs of three-, four-, and five-year-olds. Research has shown that the early years in a child’s life represent a critically important window of opportunity to develop a child’s full potential that determines a child’s success in school and in life.
ECEAP is a comprehensive preschool program that provides education, family support and parental involvement and child health and nutrition services for students and their families. ECEAP serves three- and four-year-olds from low income families, or with developmental or environmental risk factors that could interfere with school success. Research shows that programs like ECEAP save states and communities money by reducing the need for remedial services in schools, social services and criminal justice. With a larger space, we would be able to accommodate more families.
The Developmental Preschool Program supports developmentally disabled students. These students benefit from instruction by certified special education teachers, speech therapists, occupational and physical therapists and audiologists. There are no income requirements to attend the developmental preschool program, and students are served based on a ChildFind evaluation.
Both programs create a strong foundation for future success in school and help support family engagement.
The high school was built in 1979 and is 36-years-old. Some additions and modernizations were made in 1995 and 2007, but our building condition studies show several systems are failing and in need of replacement. These include:
A new, two-story classroom building to support general education programs, including STEM and CTE
New athletic building
New spaces designed for music and Special Education
Modernization of the swimming pool and locker rooms
Replacement of heating, ventilation, roofing and electrical systems
Upgraded restroom facilities and finishes throughout the campus
System upgrades for campus security and emergency response
Improvement to student parking, drop off and bus loading areas
In Washington, school construction and capital projects are funded by voter-approved bonds. The state provides partial matching funds, only after voters pass a bond and build schools. We will stretch taxpayer dollars by leveraging approximately $30 million in state construction dollars for the P-5 campus and Lake Stevens High School.
Doesn’t the state pay for new schools?