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Sedro-Woolley school board approves new bond proposal

August 1, 2018

Evergreen Elementary School students sit against a wall of shelves holding school materials during their Washington State float parade in March.

SEDRO-WOOLLEY — The Sedro-Woolley School District is taking another shot at building a new Evergreen Elementary School.

The school board on Monday unanimously approved sending a $44.5 million bond issuance proposal to voters in November.

“For a long time, the Sedro-Woolley School District has put education above our buildings,” Board President Christina Jepperson said. “It really is a necessity now in order to educate our kids. In my opinion, (Evergreen) is an unsafe environment The structure is outdated, it’s got leaky roofs, the classrooms have temporary walls ... it’s not conducive to learning.”

This is the district’s second attempt this year to get voters to approve building the new school.

In February, voters rejected the district’s $79.5 million bond issuance proposal, which required 60 percent approval.

That proposal was estimated to cost taxpayers $1.49 per $1,000 in assessed property value.

If approved, the new proposal would add 74 cents per $1,000 in assessed property value, Executive Director of Business and Operations Brett Greenwood said.

About half of the money from the original proposal was going to be used to build a new Evergreen Elementary, the district said. The rest was earmarked toward needed repairs at all of the district’s other schools, including Sedro-Woolley and State Street high schools.

“We need an Evergreen, we know that,” Superintendent Phil Brockman said at the Monday meeting. “We need about $12 million in facilities over the next five years, we know that.”

The new proposal, however, addresses only Evergreen Elementary.

If the bond proposal is approved in November, the district’s preliminary plan to replace the school would be to build an 87,000-square-foot, three-story school with the capacity for about 650 students. It would be located between Cascade Middle School and the current Evergreen Elementary building.

About a year ago, the cost of replacing Evergreen Elementary was estimated at $45 million, Greenwood said. Now, that number has risen to $46.8 million.

The district is expecting to receive about $8 million from the state in construction assistance funds, Greenwood said, that it will use to fill the gap between what the district is asking of its voters and the cost of the school.

What’s left after building the new elementary will be used for property acquisition, he said.

Even if approved, the new proposal would not fund what the district sees as critical maintenance needs at all of its buildings. That means the district would need to find alternative ways to pay for some of those things, including structural and roofing issues, faulty HVAC systems, and window replacements.

“To me, those don’t seem like luxury items, they seem like must-haves,” Greenwood said. “So when we have funding, we’re going to back those things.”

At the Monday meeting, the district began discussions of eventually asking voters for a capital projects levy, which would help it address aging buildings district-wide.

“This is more than just fluff, this is a necessity,” Jepperson said. “This is more than just ‘We need toilet paper’ this is ‘Our building is going to fall down.’”

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