I am looking for more specifics. Where can I find more information about the bond?
Superintendent Greg Baker has given many presentations about the bond and you can see that presentation. Our bond fact sheet and website are also helpful resources. You can also see the resolution submitted to the auditor’s office in December. Please call us with any other questions you may have at the District Office at 360-676-6400 or in Communications at 360-676-6520.
You may also email the following staff with inquiries:
firstname.lastname@example.org in communications
email@example.com in capital projects and finance
firstname.lastname@example.org in the superintendent’s office
Do you have estimates for how much each area of investment will cost?
Yes, we have estimates for each of the five areas of priority. Final costs would be established after going through the bid process and hiring architects/contractors.
- Community Transitions facility: $19M
- New elementary school on Cougar Road: $50M
- Design for replacement three elementaries: $10.25M
- Current project completion: $22.75M
- Safety, Sustainability, Accessibility projects: $20M
How did the district choose projects for the bond?
This bond includes the highest priority needs that were identified by a districtwide task force last fall. The task force consisted of students, staff, community members, City of Bellingham staff and families. In many cases, projects are based on age, condition, functionality, growth projects from the city and other factors. Most schools will see at least some updates and improvements, from new inclusive playground equipment to new roofing. You can see the full list of improvement projects here.
Why is another elementary school needed?
In 2011, the district purchased land on Cougar Road in the King Mountain area as growth was occurring in North Bellingham. Based on growth projections in the city, there will be demand for another elementary school in the future. After the school is built, it will serve as a temporary space for Columbia, Carl Cozier and Roosevelt elementary schools as they are rebuilt. This plan will provide great benefits to the students, staff and community of each of these three neighborhood schools, in that there small or restricted sites don’t allow for us to build a new school on the site while keeping the existing schools operational. Each community will be housed offsite for a year while their school is replaced. After all three school communities have transitioned through this swing space, the school will then be opened as the 15th comprehensive elementary school.
Why has the district not completed projects already approved in past bonds?
In most cases, it’s due to cost escalation and COVID and in some other cases, the project scope has changed.
One example of cost escalation and delay is the Gordon Carter Environmental Site. Our capital projects team experienced challenges with getting a water supply to the site, which is needed to build an educational structure with bathrooms, and that delayed the project. Any estimate we had for that project was from 2012, and as you can probably imagine, costs have gone up considerably – whether that’s general escalation or COVID related supply chain issues. As an example for a homeowner, if you had set aside funds for a remodel project for your home, learned of some challenges then tried to complete it 10 years later, it’s very likely that you would need more funds than you originally thought. We have seen price hikes in many areas of construction even with projects recently completed. You can check out our progress on facilities projects built from past bonds.
We have postponed the District Office project (it was originally slated for improvements in 2006, then a complete rebuild in 2013) and prioritized completing school projects such as replacement for Alderwood, Birchwood, Cordata, Happy Valley, Parkview elementaries and Sehome and Options high schools.
Why is BPS running a bond instead of a capital levy?
The cost of replacing an elementary school is currently $40 million and is increasing. A capital levy with the same combined schools tax rate will not provide enough funding to build a school. A capital levy would yield approximately $11-14 million a year. If we tried to run a capital levy for $122 million dollars, we would not be able to maintain a lower tax rate.
Are we still paying off the 2013 and 2018 bonds?
Bond measures are like home loans; we borrow larger amounts today for major investments and gradually repay them over time. Our bonds all have terms no longer than 20 years. As a result, we are still paying off funds raised under the bond measures approved in 2013 and 2018.
Why do school districts run bonds?
The state does not fully fund capital construction or maintenance; it only provides partial funding for replacement of older schools. Money collected via bonds can only be used for building, construction and remodeling (levies help pay for staff, curriculum and other learning related costs). Districts across the state, including Bellingham, run bonds to provide safe, efficient and functional learning environments. We believe our children, staff, families and community deserve outstanding schools and sites for teaching and learning and also to serve as gathering spaces for our community when school is not in session.
Can I see floor plans for Community Transitions and the 15th elementary school?
This bond would give us the dollars to hire an architect and go through a design process. Whenever we design new schools or spaces, we assemble a representative group of stakeholders, including staff, students, families, community partners and architects to provide input and help shape the project. Those design advisory groups will offer opportunities for feedback to the greater community, as well, which may include a survey and/or public meetings.
It’s likely that any new construction would share many traits with the recently built Parkview, Alderwood, Sunnyland and Sehome. Each school or district facility is custom designed with the physical site and needs of that facility in mind.
Who can I call if I still have questions?
If you have questions related to the bond that are not addressed, please call BPS Communications at 360-676-6520. If our staff are not able to answer your question, we may have someone in capital projects, finance or facilities call you back.