Trying again. Everett schools eye a $317M bond in 2020

It contains no money for a high school but would replace three of the district’s oldest elementaries.

EVERETT — Three aging elementary schools would be torn down and replaced.

Thirty-six new elementary classrooms would be constructed.

And the three-story vocational building at Everett High School would get an extreme modern makeover for the medical and health career pathway program.

Those are among the marquee items included in a $317.4 million bond measure the Everett Public Schools Board of Directors may place on the ballot next April.

On Tuesday, the board will consider projects recommended for bond funding put forth by a community advisory committee. The meeting will begin at 4:30 p.m. at district headquarters at 3900 Broadway.

On Oct. 8, the board is expected to act to put a measure on the ballot. At that time, directors would make final decisions on which projects to pursue.

One undertaking not in the package: a new high school. The pricey centerpiece of the district’s failed 2018 bond measure didn’t make the cut from the 25-citizen Capital Bond Planning Committee.

It did start atop the list of priorities, said Mike Gunn, the district’s executive director of facilities and planning, who attended committee meetings.

Views evolved and events changed in the course of the nine months members spent developing recommendations.

They visited schools and saw firsthand the condition of aging facilities. In May, when directors redrew high school boundaries to ease overcrowding at Jackson High School, committee members took construction of a fourth high school off the to-do list.

Removing it — and it’s roughly $220 million price tag — made it possible for the panel “to do a lot of other work,” he said.

“This bond proposal is going to do a lot more at many school locations than the 2018 measure,” Gunn said. That was a $330.6 million bond, some $13 million more than what’s now under discussion.

Gunn, who will be presenting the recommendations Tuesday, said that the proposed bond, if passed, would not increase the tax rate paid by property owners.

A major element this time around is tearing down three elementary schools — Madison, Jackson and Lowell. Each would be replaced with new two-story buildings on the same property. Each school would serve the same number of students as they do now. Combined, this work accounts for about $165 million of the bond receipts.

“We’re not building these replacements to accommodate more students,” Gunn said. “The need is really driven because the buildings don’t meet today’s standards and educational needs. They are in poor enough condition that we need to start over.”

The committee is recommending $45.5 million in improvements at Everett High School that were also pursued in 2018.

There’s $17.9 million for retooling the three-story vocational building into the home for the district’s career pathway program focused on medical and health careers. Another $27.6 million is listed for redoing the cafeteria building to renovate the kitchen on the third floor as well as classrooms on the lower floors. There’s also money for a partial renovation of the science building.

Other big pieces include:

$33.8 million for the addition of 36 elementary classrooms spread among eight campuses. This had been part of the 2018 bond proposal.

$17.8 million for modernizing the Cascade High School science building to house a career pathway program for aerospace and advance manufacturing.

$4 million to outfit several classrooms at Jackson High School with high-end computers and audio-visual equipment. This will be for the district’s career pathway program in information and communication technology. This along with the Cascade High project were part of the 2018 bond proposal.

$2.1 million for new playground equipment at Silver Lake, Madison, Penny Creek, Garfield, Jackson, Lowell, Mill Creek, and Emerson elementary schools.

$2.4 million to replace the synthetic turf and track at Memorial Stadium.

$1.7 million to completely redo the drainage for the Cascade High School softball field and to make other improvements including construction of new covered dugouts.

The full slate of recommendations can be found on the school district website.

The committee delivered them to district administrators in June and discussed them at a school board workshop in August.

There is one issue the committee left in the hands of the school board: whether to build a brand new elementary in the south end. The committee was evenly divided. Adding it would push the total amount of the bond to around $383 million.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@herald net.com. Twitter: @dospueblos.

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