Thanks to past community support, we have many outstanding school facilities. However, some of our schools need attention to provide every child a safe, healthy and functional school.

Why is the bond needed?

In spring 2017, Bellingham Public Schools convened a Facilities Planning Task Force representing staff, students, community members and parents from across our school district. Task force meeting minutes, presentations and data from our process, as well as full details of the recommendation, are posted on the Facilities Planning Task Force webpage. 
Their recommendation reflects this bond proposal, which is on the Feb. 13 ballot.

Our schools cannot rely on the federal and state government to adequately fund school construction and protect the community’s investment through maintenance projects of our existing facilities. Therefore, school districts in our state ask local voters to approve bonds to cover these costs.

 

Proposed bond projects:

Rebuild Alderwood, Parkview and Sunnyland

Cost estimate: $89 million

These three elementary schools are part of this bond proposal due to their condition as well as their proximity to the growth occurring in north Bellingham. This allows for additional enrollment capacity or “infill” of our existing elementary schools before building a fifteenth elementary school in a future bond (not part of this bond). These elementary schools likely can be rebuilt adjacent to the existing schools, allowing students to continue to attend their schools until the new school opens, similar to how Happy Valley was built and Sehome is being constructed. The recent improvements of a new cafeteria and gym at Parkview would be incorporated and used in the design of the new school.

Alderwood Elementary 
 

Parkview Elementary

 

Sunnyland Elementary

 

Improving Safety and Security

Cost estimate: $3.6 million

Safety improvements include lockdown shades for classrooms and other school areas from the exterior when needed; radio communication; PA/intercom for all school areas, including portables; access control for more secured entrances at some schools in need; door locking systems; security cameras for exterior vandalism deterrent and protection; and cameras in some commons interior areas such as hallways (all school offices have cameras from the previous bond).

Protecting and Maintaining Existing Schools

Cost estimate: $6.46 million

This covers roofs, windows, flooring, heating and ventilation, etc., similar to how homeowners protect and maintain their home. This list includes improvements for all schools.

Providing Long-Term Technology Infrastructure and Reader Boards

Cost estimate: $1.89 million

These technology infrastructure improvements are different than the short-term needs such as computer and software that are funded by our technology levy. These long-term technology needs include cabling and improved technology infrastructure. The bond also would provide reader boards as a communication tool for schools that want them, eliminating this current fundraising need for parent organizations.

Making Facility Improvements for Health and Wellness

Cost estimate: $34.55 million

This includes second phase of turf fields for soccer, baseball and softball at Bellingham, Sehome and Squalicum high schools; one more tennis court at Bellingham and Squalicum high schools so all three comprehensive high schools have six tennis courts; improving drainage and the usability of some elementary school fields so parent organizations don’t have to fundraise for this purpose; and additional gym space at Shuksan Middle School.

Complete Remaining 2013 Bond Projects

Cost estimate: $19.5 million

This includes the Sehome High School rebuild, Central Kitchen, and Transportation Garage improvements. The task force learned that since original estimates were developed in 2012 for these projects that are currently in the planning phase, construction costs have escalated and the Sehome project in particular is subject to new stormwater, electrical, mechanical and building regulations.

Total Cost Estimate:
$155 million

 

Some Needs Remain

The task force carefully weighed the financial impact of its recommendation on our residential and business property owners. We have more facility needs than those recommended.

What is the financial impact?

Local Impact

To support these projects, voters will be asked to consider a $155 million bond. This bond will not cause the total combined local school tax rate to increase. It would remain at an estimated $4.81 per $1,000 assessed value for 2017 and 2018. It would decrease beginning in 2019 to an estimated $3.75 per $1,000 assessed value.

This is possible because of a number of actions, including:

• refinancing bonds and paying off debt;
• receiving a strong credit rating;
• expiring the school bus levy in 2018;
• planning the technology levy to be higher in the first years for purchasing student devices, then the rate drops; and
• planning by the state to reduce allowable local levy collection in 2019.

State Impact

In addition, at the state level as legislators work to fully fund education, they are planning to increase the state-level amount collected for schools. We anticipate the state rate will go up in 2018 and our local rate for schools will go down in 2019. Overall, Bellingham Public Schools property tax rate is unknown at this time due to changes in the state rate and future state legislative action.