November 3, 2015 election
November 3, 2015 election
Posted on 10/21/2015

School bond addresses overcrowding and continued growth

 

A school bond designed to address overcrowded elementary schools and continued enrollment growth in the Puyallup School District comes before voters in the November 3, 2015 General Election.

 

Election ballots will be mailed to registered voters on October 16. The ballots must be mailed or dropped off in postage-free ballot drop boxes by Election Day to be counted (see drop box locations).

 

All five of the projects on the proposed $292.5 million bond measure address the need for elementary school classroom space.

 

514 Bond Projects Chart color

 

Proposed bond projects

 

The proposed projects include:

• Replacing Firgrove, Northwood, and Sunrise elementary schools with larger elementary schools that would have 30 home rooms, similar in size to the last two elementary schools built in this district (Edgerton and Carson elementary schools, which opened in 2007). This school size generally supports four classrooms for each grade level.

 

• Building a new elementary school on nearly 17 acres of undeveloped property owned by the district. The site is on 144th Street just west of 80th Avenue Court East. The school would be built large enough to accommodate 44 home rooms, or about six classes at each grade level.

 

• Remodeling and expanding Pope Elementary to accommodate 44 home rooms, or approximately six classes per grade level. The proposed expansion includes additional classrooms, a new gym that would also be used as a cafeteria, relocation of some play areas, removal of portable classrooms, and expansion of the bus loop and parking areas.

 

The projects would accommodate full-day kindergarten classes, special education preschool classes, and a dedicated science classroom at each of the five sites. The facilities would also address enrollment growth projected to continue for at least the next decade.

 

Nearly 12 years have passed since district voters last approved a school bond, which pays for capital projects such as new school construction, renovation, replacement, and other school improvements.

 

The last voter-approved school bond in 2004, for example, paid for construction of Glacier View Junior High and Carson and Edgerton elementary schools, replacement of Kalles and Aylen junior high schools, remodels or renovations at several other schools, and updated student and staff computer equipment.

 

Continued enrollment growth

 

Enrollment growth over the past decade has created a continued demand for more classrooms and the replacement of aging facilities and equipment.

 

Puyallup is the eighth largest school district in Washington and the second largest district in Pierce County with more than 22,250 students.

 

Enrollment projections call for continued surging growth throughout the district, with an additional 1,600 students expected to arrive in Puyallup schools in the next five years. Most of that growth — 1,050 children — is projected at the elementary level.

 

Completion of the five proposed bond projects would reduce the demand for the number of elementary school temporary instructional spaces, also referred to as portable classrooms, from the current 122 elementary portable classrooms to 22 of the temporary instructional spaces.

 

The five proposed projects would create additional classroom space for 2,720 elementary students, and would create a need for a districtwide boundary review, said Rudy Fyles, the district’s chief operations officer.

 

Cost

 

The proposed bond would raise an estimated $292.5 million over 21 years. The conservative cost estimate to taxpayers is 2 cents more per $1,000 of assessed property valuation. The owner of a home valued at $250,000, for example, would pay about $5 more per year in taxes levied by the district.

 

Based on the district’s current tax rate of $6.50, the bond would result in a new estimated combined tax rate of $6.52 per $1,000 of assessed property valuation.

 

The bond measure includes refinancing about $34 million of a six-year capital projects levy approved by voters in 2014. The remaining $5 million of technology projects in the 2014 School Facility Improvements and Technology Upgrades Levy would not be refinanced.

 

Citizens Bond Planning Committee

 

The Puyallup School Board’s decision to go before voters with a school bond followed more than a year of research by a 28-member Citizens Bond Planning Committee. The committee, made up of parents, high school students, educators, and community members, reviewed facility needs districtwide.

 

The planning committee presented a report of its work to the board last spring, as well as two recommendations outlining projects that could be included on a potential school bond. Both of the committee’s recommendations focused on providing more classroom space in the district’s many crowded elementary schools.