$107.5 million Arlington school bond back on the ballot

The biggest slice of the bond funding would go toward building a new Post Middle School.

ARLINGTON — A bond measure to build and expand local schools that came up short in February is on its way back to voters.

The Arlington School Board voted 3-1 Monday to put the $107.5 million request on the November ballot.

The district asked voters for the same amount in February. The measure needed 60 percent of the vote to pass. It received less than 56 percent.

The biggest concern shared by voters was uncertainty about school taxes due to changes in the state and local funding structure, said Brian Lewis, the district’s executive director of operations. State taxes for school operations went up, while local levies are set to decrease starting next year.

Bonds for construction and modernization of school buildings are separate from the state taxes and local operations levies, Lewis said. A new bond would take the place of an existing one that is on track to be paid off next year.

Taxpayers will pay $1.37 per $1,000 assessed property value toward Arlington school bonds in 2020. With the old bond paid off and if the new one is approved, that rate would be $1.34 per $1,000 in 2021, Lewis said.

The Arlington School Board gathered for a special meeting Monday to consider election dates and bond amounts. A facilities advisory committee had forwarded recommendations: $107.5 million or $96 million measures, to run on the ballot either November of this year or February 2019.

The $107.5 million allows the district to use state matching dollars to purchase land for a fifth elementary school, Lewis said. Portables are being added at elementaries this summer to address crowding.

The biggest slice of the bond funding would go toward building a new Post Middle School, which officials say is outdated and not up to safety standards. The money also would go toward projects to prepare for growth in the district, including the addition of more classrooms at Arlington High School. Safety and security upgrades throughout the district is another key piece.

“It’s pretty much going to be a rerun of the last bond proposal,” Lewis said.

The district’s focus this time around is on better communicating plans for a new Post Middle School, the savings the district would expect with upgrades at other buildings, and how expanding Arlington High School would ready the district for growth, he said.

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; kbray@heraldnet.com.

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