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2020 Capital Construction Bond: Q and A

2020 Capital Construction Bond: Your questions answered
Posted on 11/26/2019

Is your student’s school on the list to be replaced should voters pass the 2020 bond on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020? What about the schools not on the list? Why weren’t they chosen? Those are good questions. A few other questions have also come up since the School Board approved putting the 2020 Bond on the ballot in February. Check out the Q and A below as we we hope you will find it informative.   


Question: How did you come up with Oak Heights and Beverly elementary schools, as well as College Place Middle School to be replaced? What’s the process for identifying the schools that will get new buildings?


Answer: The Bond Facilities Committee, (composed of students, parents, teachers, administrators and community members) spent over a year studying the district’s facilities needs. They visited each of the schools that were built more than 50 years ago (that’s 58 percent of our district buildings), plus recently replaced schools for comparison. They evaluated each school for educational suitability, enrollment capacity and physical condition. The School Board used the Bond Facilities Committee’s recommendations as the starting point for narrowing down the list to finalize what would be funded in the 2020 Capital Projects Bond. We encourage you to review the 2020 Bond Committee Report on our website. The 2018 Enrollment Committee Report was also used in making the decisions for the 2020 bond.  


Question: If my student’s school isn’t on this bond, where does it land on the list to get replaced if there were to be a 2026 bond?

Answer:  The Bond Committee has recommended running another bond measure in 2026, when there will be another opportunity to fund major projects while keeping a level tax rate. The district will conduct an open process for prioritizing needs to develop the bond proposal. We can’t say right now which schools would be replaced in the next bond. Several factors will have to be looked at as we get closer to 2026, including the economy and current conditions of each school.


Question: Why did you break the replacement of Spruce Elementary into two phases? Why didn’t you just replace it all at once? 


Answer: We developed sufficient funding from savings on other projects, property sales, and state construction assistance grants to construct the first phase of a full replacement and open it up to students and staff in September 2019. By constructing the first phase with the funds we had available at the time, we saved the district about 10 percent on construction costs by avoiding the current high construction market escalation. It was cheaper in 2018 to build Phase I of Spruce than it would be to build Phase 1 in 2020. 



Question: How did you determine where you would add Elementary School 21 and Middle School 5? 


Answer: Elementary growth is highest in the northeast part of our district’s boundaries. The district has owned the site across from Lynnwood High School for over 50 years, and has long intended to use the site to build a new elementary school. The Former Alderwood Middle School site is large enough to accommodate a middle school and it is also in an area experiencing growth.


Question: Does the addition of Elementary 21 and Middle School 5 mean we are switching to a 6-8 middle school model soon?


Answer: To address our capacity issues and offer more educational opportunities to our sixth graders, the ESD is moving towards implementing a 6-8 middle school. This model for middle schools is followed by most of our surrounding districts. Once the additional elementary and additional middle schools are built, we can then fully implement the 6-8 model. We will have a committee that will begin working on the specifics in spring of 2020. 


The 2018 Enrollment Committee Report identified the district is over capacity at

the elementary level. Future projections at the elementary level only make the situation worse. There are also some over‐capacity issues at our middle and high schools.


Question: How does the funding work for bonds and levies? Why do we need them? Isn’t the state suppose to pay for education?


Answer:  Funding for education in the state of Washington is complicated and can lead to questions about how schools receive the money needed to operate. The state of Washington is required to supply school districts with state funding for “basic education.”


When the funding provided by the state does not cover the actual costs to operate, construct and maintain a school district, districts often utilize bonds and levies to bridge the gap. This local funding allows school districts to provide the structures and services communities rely on, which allows students to grow and thrive.


Bond funds can only be used to fund capital projects. By law, they cannot be used to pay teacher salaries. 



Question: Why will you move Scriber Lake High School to a new location? And what does it mean that the school will now be housed in a new Innovative Learning Center? Where will that new location be?


Answer: The Innovative Learning Center (ILC) will be built above the parking lot behind the Educational Services Center (ESC) in Lynnwood. The proximity to Edmonds Community College offers many educational program opportunities for SLHS students and future innovative programs. SLHS is a districtwide program, and it’s current location in southwest Edmonds is not as convenient for students who live in the northern part of our district boundaries. The ESC is adjacent to the transit center at Edmonds Community College, which has more access to public transportation. 


Question: Why the $600 million price tag for the 2020 Bond measure? 


Answer: It’s important to note that the Bond Committee identified $1.7 billion in facility and capacity needs. So to break up the cost, we are focusing on the next several bond cycles in order to maintain a level tax rate for our community. 


As for the $600 million ask of voters for the 2020 bond, we must be clear that the project cost allocations in the bond proposal are for the total project cost, not the low construction bid. We budget for everything it will take to complete the projects, including the construction contract, sales tax, building permits, furniture and equipment, design and legal fees, utility connection fees, project management, and contingencies. All of this information must be escalated to the year we expect to conduct the project. Construction escalation has been running six percent or more a year, fueled by the unusually active market in the region. Most reporting on school construction cost covers only the amount of the low bid, which is usually about two-thirds of the total project cost.  


Our cost estimates were developed through a very thorough process. The architects in the district’s Capital Projects Office, assisted by an outside civil engineering consultant, developed conceptual designs for each project, covering both the building and also the site improvements such as parking and fields. We turned those concepts over to an independent third-party professional cost estimator, which had a lot of recent experience with school projects. The cost estimator did quantity takeoffs and completed a very detailed estimate with dozens of line items for all the trades involved. Those line item costs are based on current pricing in the local market. We also estimated the cost of all the other components of total project cost. Then we added a factor for escalation, depending on the year of construction. These amounts are consistent with what other School Districts in the Puget Sound area are budgeting for future projects.


Question: The district says part of the bond will go toward giving every school some sort of facility improvement, where can I find that information?


Answer: We have provided that information in a document that is posted on our website.


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