By Jack Mayne
There will be a new Highline School District bond issue on the November ballot if the school board approves a proposal from the Capital Facilities Advisory Committee.
The amount of the new bond is projected at $299 million. Previous bonds that did not pass were $376.0 million (2014) and $385 million (2013). This new measure will be officially decided at a Highline School Board meeting on July 20.
In a news release on Thursday (June 23) the district said the general election in November was chosen because the presidential election should bring higher than average voter turnout, “so the vote will more accurately reflect the community’s desires.”
The district said sharing the ballot with other measures and candidate decisions would reduce the cost of the election the district will be assessed by King County Elections.
Another reason to go to voters this year is that construction costs are rising, so “the sooner construction begins the less expensive it will be.”
What would be done?
The district says the proposed school bond “prioritizes facilities in the worst condition and adds classrooms to address overcrowding and make room for class size reduction. It also includes dollars for initial design work on future new high schools at Evergreen and Tyee campuses.”
The money would also pay for security improvements at all schools.
But a major issue is to rebuild Highline High School, preserving as much of the façade as structurally and financially feasible.
The money would permit building a “new school on the district-owned Zenith site to house Des Moines students, with room for growing enrollment” and to build a new middle school on the district-owned Glacier site.
The bond issue would also replenish the capital fund, ‘which will be depleted in 2017-18” which “covers critical needs and emergency repairs.”
Making “required improvements to Olympic” so it can be used to house students during Highline High School construction and future school construction projects.
The Capital Advisory Committee plan is in three phases of improvements over 15 to 18 years.
“Each phase would require a voter-approved bond to fund construction,” said the district news release.
The committee was comprised of Highline residents, staff, and students who spent the past year “intensely studying the question of how to address the need for new or renovated schools.”
The Highline School Board signaled its agreement with the committee’s recommendations at a Wednesday (June 22) meeting when it introduced a resolution to put a bond measure on the November ballot, which “recognizes the many hours of study and discussion by the Capital Facilities Advisory Committee.
The group consists of “39 community members who met for 10 months to craft a long-range facilities plan and bond proposal.”
“On behalf of the entire board, I want to thank the committee members for their months of meetings and examining the needs of our schools. The result of their work is a bond package that truly reflects the will of the community,” said School Board President Michael Spear.
The last attempt to pass a bond issue was a February 2015 special election, which was approved by a simple majority of 57 percent – but it failed because it did not meet the required 60 percent of the vote.