Everett School Board to consider another bond vote

EVERETT — The Everett School Board is expected to decide Tuesday whether to ask voters again to approve a $259 million bond issue.

A proposed motion on the agenda is identical to the bond issue which narrowly failed in a Feb. 11 special election. The School Board must act by Friday to place the measure on the April 22 ballot.

The bond issue would pay for building and construction projects, including a new high school, a new elementary school and a major upgrade to North Middle School.

About 58 percent of the those voting in the Feb. 11 election supported the measure, short of the required 60 percent supermajority required.

Last week, School Board President Pam LeSesne said she wanted to hear from the public about why the measure failed in February, asking that comments be emailed to her. She said she also visited area schools to talk to voters one-on-one.

Tuesday’s agenda includes a staff presentation about the failed measure, public comment on it and a board discussion and vote about its placement again on the ballot.

LeSesne said she would like to see the issue put to an April vote but that other board members haven’t yet made up their minds.

No polling has been conducted to determine the specific reasons why the bond failed. But posts on social media indicate that some voted against the bond issue because they thought it was too expensive.

Others say they voted against it in protest of the district’s decision to build a new $28.3 million administration building, which opened in November. While it replaced aging and energy-inefficient buildings, critics have cited it as a symbol of their frustrations with the district.

LeSesne said some voters told her they didn’t vote because school issues “always pass.” She said one man told her: “I think we have a lot of voter apathy.”

The school district has said that overcrowding at schools, including five elementary schools and two high schools, as well as projected growth are two of the main reasons they proposed the bond issue.

The School Board has scheduled 30 minutes at the meeting for public comment.

Kim Guymon, founder of the Everett School Board Project, a watchdog group, said because each commenter gets three minutes to speak, only 10 people will be able to present their views.

Tuesday’s meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. at the administration building at 3900 Broadway in Everett.

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

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