Lake Stevens School District puts $116 million bond before voters

LAKE STEVENS — The biggest request of local voters in the Feb. 9 special election comes from the Lake Stevens School District.

It’s a $116 million bond measure to pay for building a new elementary and early learning center, new buildings at the high school and repairs or overhauls at other buildings in the 8,379- student district. Every school would get safety upgrades and some would get infrastructure improvements, district spokeswoman Jayme Taylor said.

The money would be paid back over 20 years. It would cost homeowners an estimated $1.21 more per $1,000 assessed property value, or about $363 per year on a $300,000 home.

Voters would be taking on their second bond if they approved this one, which requires 60 percent of the vote. They passed a 20 year, $65.5 million measure in 2005 to build Cavelero Mid-High School, improve Lake Stevens High School, add a stadium and update Hillcrest, Mount Pilchuck and Sunnycrest elementaries.

There also are two levies on the books. In 2014, voters said yes to a $52.5 million levy for maintenance and operations and a $6 million levy for technology.

When the existing bond and levies are added to the new proposal, the estimated cost to taxpayers is about $2.44 per $1,000 assessed value. That amounts to about $732 per year on a $300,000 home.

Officials want to set up a campus on 38 acres the district owns between Soper Hill Road and Lake Drive, just east of Highway 9. The elementary and early learning center, to house the district’s two preschool programs, would share the property. There also would be space for a new middle school, though that likely won’t be needed for another decade.

The elementary would be the district’s largest, with extra parking and a separate drop-off and pick-up area. It would be designed for 550 students with room in common areas such as the cafeteria and gym for up to 700.

The district has six other elementary schools meant to fit 550 students each. Right now, they’re averaging about 660 students per school. Hillcrest and Sunnycrest, the most crowded schools, have 800 and 752 students, respectively.

If voters pass the bond, a committee would be formed to redraw school boundaries and divvy up students between the existing and new elementary schools.

“Our goal is to reposition boundaries for all of our elementaries so they’re all near the 550 mark,” Taylor said. “With the boundary change, it would impact most of our families.”

The early learning center would serve 3- to 5-year-olds in the district’s developmental preschool for special-needs children and the early childhood education and assistance program, or ECEAP. It would fit up to 250 students, allowing the 180-student program to grow, Taylor said. Currently, the preschool is in the former alternative high school, a modular building meant for teens and adults.

If the bond passes, the elementary and preschool could open as soon as fall 2017.

“Work would pretty much start immediately,” Taylor said. “We’ve already started the design process.”

Permits are in the works, she said. If this bond fails, the designs would be kept until the district’s board of directors decides to run another bond, she said.

The $116 million also would go toward a new two-story classroom building and new buildings for athletics, music and special education at Lake Stevens High School. The swimming pool and locker rooms would be updated. Heating, ventilation and electrical systems would be replaced, as would the roofs. The restrooms, parking lot and bus pull-in also are slated for overhauls. Work would be spread over about three years.

“We have not done a lot of design work on the high school yet because we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves,” Taylor said. “Our most urgent need is the elementary.”

The bond money also would be used to upgrade video surveillance, intercoms and door controls across the district. Heating and ventilation systems would be replaced. Officials want to reroof buildings and rebuild tracks at the middle and high schools. Glenwood Elementary needs to be moved from a septic system to sewer, Taylor said.

Ballots were sent out Thursday.

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

*An earlier version of the headline incorrectly stated the bond would bring in $166 million.

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