Issaquah School District considers $228 million bond

June 3, 2011

By Staff

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Though far from complete, the 2012 Issaquah School District bond has something for all of the district’s 24 schools, making the work-in-process price $228.6 million.

The bond — which has yet to come before the superintendent and the Issaquah School Board — calls for $44.6 million in improvements and expansions to Liberty High School, $3.8 million in improvements to Maywood Middle School and $17,000 in improvements to Newcastle Elementary School.

At Liberty, the bond calls for a new auxiliary gym, a modernized locker room, a new café in the commons and an acoustic improvement to the main hall.

The bond would also call for Liberty to receive a new video and TV studio, roofing fixes, modernized classrooms, a new ticket booth at the entrance to the school’s fields and new bleachers on the home side of the football field.

For Maywood, the bond would call for improvements to roofing, windows, flooring, carpeting, plumbing, and the heating and ventilation system. The school’s grass field would also be converted to artificial turf, as rainy winters make the grass field muddy and temporarily unusable.

The artificial field will also help finances in the long term, saving money on custodial work and maintenance, such as mowing, watering, fertilizing and aerating.

At Newcastle Elementary, the bond would improve plumbing and refrigeration equipment.

Every district bond goes through five steps.

For the proposed 2012 bond, district officials tracked maintenance needs — such as roofing, carpets and paint — and created a list called a springboard.

The district then formed a committee that added and removed items from the springboard. From March to April, a committee of parents, principals, students, business representatives, senior citizens and community members discussed each item on the springboard.

In one instance, the committee voted to remove $4.42 million in new portable classrooms added in case the state begins requiring full-day kindergarten. Given the current budget deficit of $5.1 billion, the committee decided that the state would probably not require full-day kindergarten, Associate Superintendent Ron Thiele said.

In another instance, the committee added a remodel of the Maple Hills Elementary School office, costing a projected $35,000. The remodel would give office staff a view of the front door, helping the school’s safety monitoring.

The committee unanimously approved the bond proposal April 26, allowing the bond to move to its third phase: the superintendent’s review.

Superintendent Steve Rasmussen attended all of the committee’s meetings, and he will spend the next month analyzing and possibly changing the proposal before he presents it to the school board in June.

Rasmussen, with a team of administrators, will examine the original springboard, the committee’ proposal, the feasibility of voters’ approval and the taxpayers’ burden.

He will make a recommendation to the board, which will review the proposed bond this summer. By fall, the board will decide whether to put the bond before voters, likely in February or April.

In the fifth and final step, voters will have their say. The bond needs a supermajority of 60 percent to pass. Voters passed the most recent district bond with a 68 percent approval rating in 2006 for a bond of $241.8 million.

The more the district can collect in voter-approved bond money, the less it has to rely on its general fund to pay for maintenance, Rasmussen said. Bond money can only be used for school construction or repair. On the other hand, the general fund pays for items including teacher salaries and school supplies. If the district does not have bond money, it will have to dip into its general fund to fix malfunctioning buildings.

“We want to make sure we have quality schools for kids,” he said.

On the Web

See the bond proposal online at www.issaquah.wednet.edu and click on “Bond feasibility and development committee.”

Get involved

Email thoughts or suggestions about the proposed 2012 bond to bond2012@issaquah.wednet.edu.

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