Everett School Board considers smaller levy in 2016

EVERETT — The Everett School Board is leaning toward proposing a capital levy in a February 2016 special election and postponing a larger bond ballot measure until 2018.

That’s one scenario the board and the district administration are considering. Other options include putting the bond on the ballot in 2016 and postponing the capital levy until 2018, or putting both on the ballot in 2016.

Board members have in mind last year’s two bond-measure failures as they consider the size and timing of future requests. A decision is not expected before November.

In February 2014, the district sought voter approval of a $259.4 million capital projects bond that would have funded new elementary and high schools and modernization projects, among other things.

The bond required a 60 percent majority to pass and failed by a little less than 2 percent. The board offered the same issue in an April special election and it failed again by the same margin.

The new proposed levy would come to about $80 million, including $29 million to fund a program that would provide mobile devices to every middle- and high-school student in the district. It also would include $22.7 million for maintenance projects for technology and other facilities and equipment.

The bond measure under consideration would come to $225.1 million and would include items like modernizing North Middle School, Woodside Elementary and the Everett High School cafeteria; construction of a new elementary school in the south end; and building or acquiring more classroom space to accommodate growth and new class-size reduction mandates from the Legislature.

Mike Gunn, the district’s executive director of facilities and operations, told the board last week that a special advisory council of staff, students, parents and other community members recommended that any 2016 ballot measures be smaller than the failed 2014 measure, and that the district run at least one of the two measures in 2016, if not both.

“We would love to be able to run both a levy and a bond in 2016. It’s just that the tax rates would be fairly high,” Gunn said.

For that reason more than any other, he said, putting the smaller levy on the ballot next year is an attractive option. It would only require a simple majority to pass.

Board vice president Ted Wenta acknowledged that pushing the bond issue out to 2018 was simply delaying decisions, but last year’s failure of the two measures indicated residual anger after the district built a new headquarters while the Legislature was cutting money for education.

“There is still a perception or erosion of trust over the facility, and the question is whether we can get 60 percent of the vote, and I don’t think we can,” Wenta said.

“We as a district need to demonstrate (return on investment) back to the voters. It allows us to go for a small win, which we desperately need right now,” he said.

Board member Caroline Mason said she wanted to look for alternate ways to cover maintenance costs, such as leasing equipment, because some older schools urgently need work.

“The neglect is starting to stretch out just a little too long,” Mason said.

Board President Pam LeSesne suggested moving the modernization items out of a bond and into a levy proposal. Gunn cautioned the overall tax burden from a $170 million, six-year levy might be too high for voters.

A new high school, which was part of the 2014 bond measure, is not in the bond scenario for 2018.

“Really, if you run the same package, you’re showing that you’re not listening,” Gunn said.

“The feedback we’ve been getting is that the need for a new high school was not well understood,” he said.

The data, however, show that Henry M. Jackson High School, which as of October had 2,168 students and 14 portable classrooms on campus, is going to get more crowded. The school is projected to have 2,364 students and 23 portables in 2022, and that will rise to 2,573 students and 32 portables by 2026.

A high school would take four years to build and cost at least $150 million, Gunn said. If a high school isn’t part of a 2018 bond measure, it would have to be on a 2022 bond, Gunn said.

That means Jackson High is going to get more portables before a new school opens. A lot more.

“They would have to go on the fields, I’m sure. That’s the only place we’d have room for them,” Gunn said.

Superintendent Gary Cohn told the board that there will be opportunities to go over various options for a levy and bond measure during extended work sessions later in the summer.

Chris Winters: 425-374-4165; cwinters@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @Chris_At_Herald.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Kim Skarda points at her home on a map on Thursday, June 20, 2024 in Concrete, Washington. A community called Sauk River Estates has a very steep slope above it. There is a DNR-approved timber sale that boarders the estate properties, yet they were not consulted about the sale before approval. The community has already appealed the sale and has hired their own geologist to conduct a slope stability report at the site. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Beneath steep slope, Concrete neighbors fear landslides from logging above

Nielsen Brothers plans to cut 54 acres of timber directly behind the community of 83 homes. Locals said they were never consulted.

Law enforcement respond to a person hit by a train near the Port of Everett Mount Baker Terminal on Thursday, June 27, 2024 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
2 killed in waterfront train crashes were near Mukilteo ‘quiet zone’

In June, two people were hit by trains on separate days near Mukilteo Boulevard. “These situations are incredibly tragic,” Everett’s mayor said.

Rob Plotnikoff takes a measurement as a part of the county's State of Our Waters survey at Tambark Creek in Bothell, Washington on Monday, July 1, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Snohomish County stream team bushwhacks a path to healthier waterways

This summer, the crew of three will survey 40 sites for the State of Our Waters program. It’s science in locals’ backyards.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
4th suspect arrested after Mountlake Terrace home robbery

Police arrested Taievion Rogers, 19, on Tuesday. Prosecutors charged his three alleged accomplices in April.

A 10 acre parcel off of Highway 99, between 240th and 242nd Street Southwest that the city of Edmonds is currently in the process of acquiring on Monday, July 10, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edmonds ditches $37M Landmark public park project off Highway 99

The previous mayor envisioned parks and more in south Edmonds, in a historically neglected area. The new administration is battling budget woes.

Edmonds school official sworn in as Mount Vernon supe

Victor Vergara took his oath of office last week. He was assistant superintendent of equity and student success in Edmonds.

A photo of "Tazz," an Argentine white Tegu still missing near Granite Falls. (Provided photo)
Tazz the missing tegu reunited with owner in Granite Falls

The 4-foot lizard went missing Friday evening. Searchers located him in a barn, 1 mile away from his home.

A closing sign hangs above the entrance of the Big Lots at Evergreen and Madison on Monday, July 22, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Big Lots announces it will shutter Everett and Lynnwood stores

The Marysville store will remain open for now. The retailer reported declining sales in the first quarter of the year.

President Joe Biden speaks at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, in Greensboro, N.C., on April 14, 2022. Biden plans to nominate Michael Barr  to be the Federal Reserve's vice chairman of supervision. The selection of Barr comes after Biden's first choice for the Fed post, Sarah Bloom Raskin, withdrew her nomination a month ago (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Washington Democrats voice support for Biden’s decision to drop out of presidential race

Some quickly endorsed Vice President Kamala Harris to replace him on the ballot.

Teenager in stable condition after Everett drive-by shooting Saturday

Major Crime Unit detectives were looking for two suspects believed to have shot the teenager in the 600 block of 124th Street SW.

Miners Complex tops 500 acres in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

Nine lightning-caused fires force trail closures and warnings 21 miles east of Darrington. No homes are threatened.

FILE — President Joe Biden arrives for a Medal of Honor ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, July 3, 2024. Biden abandoned his campaign for a second term under intense pressure from fellow Democrats on Sunday, July 21, upending the race for the White House in a dramatic last-minute bid to find a new candidate who can stop former President Donald Trump from returning to the White House. (Doug Mills/The New York Times)
Biden drops out of race, endorses vice president Kamala Harris

The president announced the decision on social media Sunday.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.