EDMONDS — Leaders of Edmonds public schools are assembling the final pieces of a $600 million construction bond to be put in front of voters next year.
The measure, which could appear on the February ballot, would provide money to build two new schools, replace three others and make physical improvements on campuses throughout the district, officials said.
“We understand that that is a very large number,” said district spokeswoman Harmony Weinberg. “We have over capacity. We’re running out of room.”
The Edmonds School District Board of Directors will pore through details in a 6:30 p.m. study session Tuesday at 20420 68th Ave. W. in Lynnwood.
On Sept. 24, the board plans to take the first of two votes needed to get it on the ballot. The second vote is slated for Oct. 8.
Another factor behind the amount of the bond is that most of the district’s schools are aging. Weinberg said 58 % are 50 years or older, which puts them at the end of their fiscal life.
“This is what is needed for our district,” she said. “We want to give our students a safe and comfortable environment as they can continue on their educational paths.”
Edmonds School District, the county’s largest, covers 36 square miles. It has 34 schools, 20,299 students and an annual operating budget of $321.6 million.
A long-term facilities plan completed in August 2018 forecast a need for more campuses. The most acute demand was predicted at the elementary level where enrollment is growing and new requirements for all-day kindergarten and smaller classes are creating pressure for more classrooms.
Elementary schools are at 107% of capacity now, Weinberg said.
A bond advisory committee identified $1.4 billion in needs in the district, and directors have been working to prioritize which schools are in greatest need of replacement.
As now envisioned, the $600 million package contains money to build a new middle school at the former Alderwood Middle School site and build a new elementary near Lynnwood High.
There also would be money to replace one middle school and two elementary schools, complete the next phase of Spruce Elementary and build an alternative learning center.
Voters in the Edmonds district last considered a school bond in 2014. At that time they approved a $275 million package.
It paid for replacement of Lynndale Elementary and Madrona K-8 schools, and the relocation and replacement of Alderwood Middle School. Money also went to modernize three other elementaries, make safety improvements on several campuses, and relocate the district’s maintenance and transportation facility.
What’s under discussion is also nearly double the $330.6 million bond measure that voters rejected in the Everett School District in February 2018. Though it garnered support from 55.4% of voters, it failed because bond measures require at least 60% to pass. The Everett School Board may decide next week to try again next year.
Also Tuesday, the Edmonds School Board will discuss a new four-year $96 million technology and capital levy to replace the one which expires next year. It too would require voter approval next year.
In 2016, voters passed a four-year $59 million levy for technology improvements and upgrades to buildings and sports fields. More than $32 million is getting spent on student Chromebooks, replacing school computer labs and teacher laptops, and upgrading cameras and sound systems. There’s also money for new roofs on 10 buildings and redoing some sports fields at Edmonds-Woodway and Lynnwood high schools.
As proposed, the next levy would continue providing Chromebooks for students, expand classroom display and audio systems, and improve Internet access for students at home. There are also safety and security upgrades.
As with the bond measure, directors plan to take action Sept. 24 and Oct. 8 so that it will be on the ballot next year.