School Board approves bond measure for April 26 ballot
On Monday, the Lake Washington School District Board of Directors unanimously approved placing a $398 million bond measure on the April 26 ballot. The measure is designed to reduce overcrowding in our schools and help address the significant growth in enrollment our district is experiencing.
As most of you know first-hand, our schools are tremendously overcrowded. Enrollment has increased by 1,114 students this year alone---the equivalent of 34 classrooms of students. We've had such enormous growth that in one year we moved from being the 6th largest school district in the state to 4th largest. We're projected to move to 3rd largest, and possibly even 2nd largest (after Seattle), within the next 3-5 years.
By next school year, there will be 168 portables in the Lake Washington School District. That's equivalent to 7 elementary schools. Approximately 4,000 students will be housed in portables instead of in regular classrooms.
The bond measure, if approved, will:
- Rebuild and enlarge Juanita High School
- Rebuild and enlarge Peter Kirk Elementary
- Rebuild and enlarge Margaret Mead Elementary
- Build a new elementary school and a new middle school in Redmond Ridge
- Build a new elementary school in North Redmond
- Refurbish the Old Redmond Schoolhouse as preschool center, thus freeing up space in elementary schools that currently have preschool classes
- Replace Explorer Community School's failing portables with new modular units
- Complete other projects to meet Title IX and/or ADA requirements.
The good news is that this bond measure won't increase the current tax rate for our school district. That's because with new housing construction, state construction assistance, and the fact that other bonds and capital levies are expiring this year, the tax rate will remain at the 2015 level.
Even better news is that by following the Long Term Facility Task Force's recommendation of placing future bond measures on a 4-year cycle, the tax rate is projected to remain at the 2015 level for the next 15 years.
Parents, friends, and family members are very likely to look to you for information about this bond. It's important for you to be able to communicate to them about the severe overcrowding problem you live with every day, and what the district is attempting to do to address the problem. Dr. Traci Pierce, LWSD Superintendent, and Kevin Teeley, LWEA President, will be meeting with every building staff over the next two months to ensure that you're well-informed about the bond measure so you can respond to questions knowledgeably. In the meantime, you can find information on the bond on the district's website at www.lwsd.org.