The Issaquah School District’s bond good for students and taxpayers
March 15, 2012 · Updated 2:17 PM
The Issaquah School District is asking voters to give it $219 million on April 17 to rebuild its oldest schools and make improvements and modernizations at many others.
The money is needed and voters should say yes to this bond issue.
Today’s issue features a report by staff writer Celeste Gracey that outlines numerous problems with the district’s old schools. Not only are they in disrepair, but also they don’t come close to meeting the needs of our students.
Consider: Clark and Sunny Hills elementary schools and Issaquah Middle School each are more than half a century old. There simply is no way a school that old can give our kids the tools they will need to succeed in life.
There are other critical needs that the bonds will address. Modernizations and/or renovations are planned for a number of elementary schools, including Apollo, Challenger, Cougar Ridge, Discovery, Endeavour, Grand Ridge, Issaquah Valley, Maple Hills, Sunset, Beaver Lake, Maywood and Pine Lake. There also is money for needed improvements, modernizations, and/or renovations at all the district’s high schools. Liberty High School particularly needs help.
How bad is bad? How about failing roofs, windows, and floors; old heating, electrical, and mechanical systems; and inadequate security and safety features.
As expensive as $219 million sounds, this is a good time to sell bonds since construction costs are at historic lows. In addition, the district will get the long-term benefits that come from new buildings operating about 30 percent more efficiently that old ones.
So, then, what’s the bottom line, financially speaking?
Surprisingly, if the bond passes, the owner of a $500,000 home will pay about $200 LESS per year. That financial magic happens because previous bonds that are being retired will save voters more than the new bonds add.
The retiring bond debt will drop the tax rate from $4.85 to $4.05 per $1,000 of assessed property value; approval of the new bond will bump the estimated tax rate up to only about $4.42, significantly less that the current rate.
Because bonds are like a home mortgage – and affect taxpayers over a number of years – it takes a “super majority” yes vote, that is, “60 percent plus one” to approve them.
Voters need to make this issue a priority since other “hot button” issues and races won’t be on the ballot. The district has prepared a needed and carefully thought out blueprint for our schools. Voters should to say “yes.”
– Craig Groshart, Issaquah & Sammamish Reporter