The Arlington School Board will put a bond to replace Post Middle School, a classroom and security levy, as well as a replacement levy before the voters in February.
The district’s board of directors voted on Oct. 28 to approve the measures for the upcoming Feb. 11, 2020, ballot.
The $71.5 million bond would construct a new Post Middle School.
A rebuild of that school has been part of previous bond measures that failed in the district, however the district is proposing only that one project this time.
“We did some opinion research and one of the things that became apparent is that people were asking us to separate the issues,” said Brian Lewis, executive director of operations at the district. “So we made it a stand-alone issue on the ballot."
The aging school presents a lot of problems for the district.
“We don’t have enough electricity,” said Lewis, who said the school’s infrastructure prevents them from running the technology and science programs they want to provide for students.
Providing a full curriculum on technology means starting at the middle school.
“The rebuild of Post would allow us to create a comprehensive program across the district,” said Lewis.
The safety and the security of the building also has problems.
“There is no defined single point of entry, so it is very difficult to secure that building,” said Lewis.
The majority of the school also does not have a fire sprinkler system.
It is the only building in the district that uses a wood frame instead of a steel frame. Because of that, Lewis said that the district is “concerned about the school’s ability to resist an earthquake.”
The soil under the school is particularly hard as well, which means it produces more severe shaking.
Bonds in Washington state require 60 percent approval to pass, while levies require just 50 percent.
The district’s second measure is a capital levy that would expand Arlington High School and make some safety upgrades.
“This is split between classroom additions and security improvements,” said Lewis.
Eight classrooms would be added to Arlington High School, as well as a technology and arts space.
That expansion is projected to cost $11 million.
The four-year levy is expected to increase the property tax rate $1.15 per $1,000 of assessed property value.
The expansion is about having adequate space in the high school.
“We have a significant growth in elementary schools, and that is beginning to reach the high school,” said Lewis.
“Just to be clear, these kids are currently in our middle schools and this is not about any projected growth,” he said.
Security improvements would be implemented across the district, including improved door locks, security cameras and secure entryways.
The final levy is a replacement educational program and operations levy.
It would take the place of an expiring levy and therefore would not represent an increase in the current tax rate, merely a decision to maintain the current rate of $1.70 per $1,000 of assessed property value.
“It’s a replacement levy of what was already approved by the voters previously,” said Lewis. “It’s not unusual to bring these levies back to the voters when they’re expiring."
This levy primarily funds salaries for positions not funded by the state, which includes additional teachers and other staff.
“For example, we have a pretty strong nursing program, but we don’t receive all the funds necessary for that from the state,” said Lewis. The state only provides funding for 0.88 nurses for the entire district, he added.
Lewis hopes that Arlington residents with questions about the three measures talk with district staff.
“We hope that if anyone has any questions about these issues they reach out to us,” he said.
More information is available at https://www.asd.wednet.edu/2020_levies_and_bond.