A Lake Washington School District bond and levies sign is displayed on Northeast 85th Street in Kirkland. Andy Nystrom, Redmond Reporter

A Lake Washington School District bond and levies sign is displayed on Northeast 85th Street in Kirkland. Andy Nystrom, Redmond Reporter

LWSD places bond, levies on February ballot

Voters in the Lake Washington School District (LWSD) will be asked to approve two levy renewals and a bond on the Feb. 13 special election ballot.

Staff from LWSD gave a presentation at an Education Hill Neighborhood Association forum in Redmond last week where they laid out the case for approving the measures.

LWSD Superintendent Traci Pierce said the levies are renewing ones that currently exist, and the bond is the second of four planned measures that will help the schools cope with increasing student counts through 2030.

“We have been growing rapidly every year,” she said.

Beginning in 2008, the district has grown by an average of 700 students annually, putting a strain on current facilities.

Currently, homeowners in the district pay $3.16 per $1,000 of assessed property value.

In light of the funding mechanism the state Legislature passed in accordance with the McCleary Decision, state taxation rates are projected to increase by 82 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, LWSD staff said.

In light of this, Pierce said the district decided not to ask for as high a rate in the local levies and bond as they could, resulting in a net decrease of 23 cents per $1,000.

If the levies and bond are passed, taxpayers would see a drop from the current local taxes of $3.16 per $1,000 of property value down to $2.93.

The main sources of funding for LWSD come from the state and local funds.

Some 59 percent of funding is from the state, with around 19 percent coming from local measures, Pierce said.

Bonds and levies provide funding for technology and facility construction, as well as courses that aren’t funded by the state and athletics.

The capital projects levy renewal charges 59 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value and covers costs associated with replacing heating and ventilation systems and funding portables, fire alarms and roofing.

The educational programs and operations levy renewal will go toward funding special education classes, English learner programs, paying substitute teachers and athletics programs, among others.

“We rely on levy dollars to fund those things,” Pierce said.

The new tax rate for this levy would be $1.03 per $1,000 of assessed value, which is 23 cents lower than the current levy.

While the levies are renewals of previously passed measures, the bond is the second of four that were recommended by a task force commissioned to construct a measure which voters could approve.

Pierce said the current bonds stem from a process that began in 1998, when the school district decided to modernize aging facilities.

Eleven schools were renovated in 1998, and in 2006 another 11 schools were remodeled or replaced.

In 2010 as school officials saw growth in the district rapidly increasing, they tried to run a bond, but it failed, as did a second attempt in 2014.

The task force was formed after the second failure and put together a long-term facility plan that proposed placing bonds before voters in 2016, 2018, 2022 and 2026.

The first bond was for $398 million while this year’s bond is $299 million.

If approved, this bond will finance an addition at Lake Washington High School, a new elementary school, a new choice high school in Sammamish, special education learning spaces, capital projects and replace and enlarge Kamiakin Middle School and Alcott Elementary.

In total, it will add space for 2,100 students.

The first portion of the bond, approved in 2016, added space for 3,000 new students.

It was used to rebuild and enlarge Juanita High School, Kirk Elementary and Mead Elementary. It also funded the construction of new schools in Redmond Ridge and north Redmond.

The Old Redmond Schoolhouse will also be refurbished for use as a preschool.

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