Mukilteo Beacon - Your Hometown News Source

What would a February bond fund?

All schools are over capacity with no room for a new one

 

October 23, 2019



While much of the focus lately in Mukilteo has been about the upcoming Nov. 5 general election, another election looms.

There is a likely chance that in early 2020, voters living in Mukilteo School District boundaries will be voting on a $240 million capital bond in the February special election, which would increase the tax rate collected by schools from 2021 to 2026.

Bonds, unlike levies, require at least 60% of voter approval to pass. Levies require just a simple majority.

For comparison’s sake, in early 2018, the Mukilteo School District placed two levies on the ballot in the February special election. Both Prop. 1 (Replacement of Educational Programs Levy) and Prop. 2 (Technology Capital Projects Levy) passed with 53.36% and 55.06% of the vote, respectively.

The Mukilteo School District held two open houses last week to give community members an idea of what the bond entails.

Based on community feedback, the proposal may be altered. Superintendent Marci Larsen will give her recommendation to the board Monday, Oct. 28. The board will vote Nov. 12 on the proposition.

“Bonds are about building schools, remodeling, and core infrastructure,” Larsen said. “Districts receive no money from the state for buildings and infrastructure, so we have to get approval from the voters.”

Larsen said this bond proposal has been discussed for a few years, and community members were involved in shaping it.

From December 2017 to March 2019, the district gathered data looking at enrollment projections, new housing developments, facility conditions, field conditions, security systems, and technology infrastructure needs.

In March and April, the district received information and feedback from “key groups,” such as community members, parents, high school students, and Mukilteo Education Association representatives.

An advisory committee met between April and June before making recommendations to Larsen.

Karen Mooseker, Mukilteo School District’s executive director of support services, discussed the more specific aspects of what the bond would entail and why it is necessary.

As has been reported, the district is continually growing. Mooseker said that there are roughly 1,800 new residential units (single-family residences, townhomes, or apartments) under construction in Mukilteo School District’s boundaries.

Combine that with there being no suitable, vacant land for a new school/schools in the district, as well as every school in the district being at or over capacity, and the problem is clear: More room is necessary.

Currently, more than of the roughly 7,200 elementary school students in the district, 6,228 are in permanent buildings while more than 1,000 are in portables. In middle schools, 3,662 are in permanent buildings compared to just 85 in portables, while 3,639 high schoolers are in permanent buildings and 779 are in portables.

Mooseker said projections show there will be more than 600 additional elementary school students, 21 middle schoolers, and 237 high schoolers by 2026.

“With no suitable vacant land for a new school, we’re looking at current sites to expand and add on to,” she said.

In addition to space, the two other key components are support and security. Support includes technology, field improvements, and facility systems like HVAC and plumbing.

The bond is currently proposed at $240 million, with $160 million earmarked for major modifications and additions, $12.3 million for security upgrades, $2 million for technology infrastructure, $52.4 million for facility system improvements, and $13.3 million for athletic fields and courts.

So, let’s dive a little deeper into those dollars.

Security

School safety and security has been a hot talking point nationally in recent years due in large part to the increase in school shootings.

Of the $12.3 million currently marked for security improvements, $1.3 million is for integrated classroom door locks at all schools, interior emergency communication systems at all schools, and $500,000 for perimeter fencing enhancements at select locations.

The biggest dent in that $12.3 million is the $9 million is for automated access control systems for all schools.

“It would limit points of entry, and the systems can also have a schedule for when it’s locked or unlocked,” Mooseker said.

Technology

The $2 million for technology improvements would expand the Mukilteo School District’s fiber and Wi-Fi network, as well as upgrading the district’s data cable.

Facility systems

The improvement to facility systems is based on condition assessments conducted over the last year.

Most of the money would go to HVAC, electrical, and plumbing upgrades, with that currently taking up $37.4 million of the $52.4 million marked for facility systems upgrades.

Another $3.5 million would go toward roofing, $1.5 million for flooring, and $10 million for improving Kamiak’s Performing Arts Center.

“It would modernize and replace critical systems for the Kamiak PAC,” Mooseker said. “Some of the parts used there are actually old and obsolete.”

Fields and courts

Athletic fields and courts would get a boost with the bond.

Currently, $13.3 million of the $240 million would go towards improving various athletic fields and courts throughout the district. Most of that money ($11 million) would help upgrade the football field and tracks at Explorer and Olympic View middle schools, as well as improving the infields for Kamiak and Mariner’s baseball and softball fields.

The other $2.3 would complete “lifecycle replacements” for Harbour Pointe Middle School’s softball field, elementary school sand fields, and Kamiak and Olympic View’s tennis courts.

Growth and modernization

Most of the funds from the bond, if passed, would help with the ever-growing student population throughout the entire school district.

Challenger and Horizon elementary schools would each receive $15 million for additions to the campuses, while Discovery Elementary School would get $30 million.

Mukilteo Elementary, Serene Lake Elementary, and Explorer Middle School are marked to receive “additions and partial replacements.” As it stands, Mukilteo Elementary would receive $25 million, Serene Lake $20 million, and Explorer $30 million.

At the high school level, Mariner would get $25 million to add on to the campus.

“Mariner has a very large student body,” Mooseker said. “The school is out of space, and this would support the student population size.”

Change to tax rate

Currently, the Mukilteo School District has the fourth-lowest local tax rate in Snohomish County at just over $2.50 per $1,000 of assessed home value in 2019.

If the bond passes, the total state and local tax rate is projected to increase by 9.4 cents per $1,000 of assessed home value. That equates to an increase of $47 per year for a home valued at $500,000.

The current combined tax rate in the district is $5.08 per $1,000, and it will increase to $5.47 for 2020.

If the bond passes, it would be implemented from 2021 to 2026, and the district estimates it would remain steady at $5.95 per $1,000 for those six years.

Author Bio

Brandon Gustafson, Editor, Mukilteo Beacon

Brandon Gustafson was named editor of the Mukilteo Beacon in October, 2017. Born and raised in Mukilteo, Brandon attended Mukilteo Elementary, Olympic View Middle School, and Kamiak High School, graduating in 2013. After high school, Brandon attended Shoreline Community College, earning his associate's degree while playing for the school's baseball team. He then transferred to the University of Washington, where he graduated in 2017 with a bachelor's degree in communications-journalism.

Email: mukilteoeditor@yourbeacon.net
Phone: 425-347-5634
Twitter: @MukBeaconBPG

 

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