Everett voters may be asked to build 2 new schools

A new high school and a new elementary school are two of the biggest projects expected to be part of a $259 million bond issue for the Everett School District.

In a special election Feb. 11, voters will be asked to approve issuing the bonds.

Final action on the eight-year bond issue and the projects it will pay for is scheduled for the school board’s Nov. 26 meeting. The board had a preliminary discussion of the district’s building and construction needs Tuesday.

Most of the items to be included in the bond package are decided, and in that present form no tax increase would be needed, the district says.

The new $89 million high school and new $37 million elementary would both be built in the south end of the district, which is experiencing the most growth.

Other projects include $41 million for renovation and construction at North Middle School; $22 million to upgrade Woodside Elementary School; $24 million for adding 42 kindergarten, first, second and third grade classrooms; and $2.3 million for synthetic turf fields at Jackson and Cascade high schools.

Still undecided is whether the school board can find a way to pay for two projects listed as high priorities but are not now part of the proposed $259 million construction package.

They are a $15 million modernization of an Everett High School building that includes the cafeteria, 10 classrooms, band and chorus rooms and a computer lab, and a $12.9 million upgrade to Cascade High School’s science lab.

The single most expensive project in the proposed bond issue is a new high school. It’s being described as a “small” high school of about 750 students.

The school district considers 1,500 students the optimal size for a high school. Jackson High School has more than 2,000 students, meaning it’s at or above capacity, school officials say.

The district now has four high schools: Everett, Cascade, Jackson and Sequoia, the alternative school.

The district has considered increasing the bond issue to pay for more projects. However, Jeff Russell, board president, said the goal is for the district to issue the bonds without increasing taxes.

“It’s a tough spot,” Russell said. “We know a stable (tax) rate is a high priority.” Yet the Cascade and Everett high school programs are more than deserving, he said.

Property within the school district is now taxed $6.54 cents per $1,000 of property valuation.

The preliminary bond package, not including the Cascade and Everett high school projects, would not require a tax increase, school officials said.

Adding the Everett and Cascade projects would cost 14 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, or $31.50 a year for a house valued at $225,000, according to Jeff Moore, the district’s finance director.

School board member Ed Petersen asked if the board might choose to put an issue on the ballot that would include a tax increase to pay for more projects on the district’s construction list. However, that would require getting a 60 percent approval margin from voters.

Although it’s not one of the most expensive items in the list of bond projects, one project that would be funded has gotten a lot of public attention over the past two years — installation of synthetic turf fields at Cascade and Jackson high schools.

The synthetic field at Cascade would be installed on the practice football field inside the school’s track. The synthetic field at Jackson would be installed on the soccer field.

Calls for replacing the current grass fields with synthetic turf were made after students complained that sloppy field conditions were leading to injuries.

As a freshman, Nathan Elliot, a member of Cascade High School’s football team, broke his ankle and ended up in a cast for six weeks after another football player slipped and fell on top of him.

Kevin Wooley, president of the Jackson High School football booster club, told the board Tuesday that synthetic-turf fields would contribute to player safety.

His son, John Robert Wooley, a Jackson High School senior, told the school board that he’s been on the football team for four years. “Every year we get to the rainy season and it gets muddy, and it’s hard to do what we need to do,” he said.

Voters in the school district approved a $198.9 million capital bond in 2006 and a $48 million capital levy in 2010.

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486; salyer@heraldnet.com.

Bond details

The Everett School Board is expected to schedule a special election Feb. 11 asking voters to approve a $259 million bond issue. Some of the projects the bond issue would pay for:

$89 million for a “small” high school.

$37 million for a new elementary school.

$41 million for renovation and construction at North Middle School.

$22 million to upgrade Woodside Elementary School.

$24 million for adding 42 kindergarten, first, second and third grade classrooms.

$2.3 million for synthetic turf fields at Jackson and Cascade high schools.

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