March 31, 2011 in Washington Voices

EV bond would fund school improvements

 

 Ballots for the East Valley School District construction bond will be mailed April 8. The bond will use $33.75 million in local taxpayer money to renovate and improve Trentwood, East Farms, Otis Orchards, Skyview and Trent elementary schools.

 It would add 40 new classrooms and four new gyms. The district offices and the maintenance department would move to East Valley Middle School. That middle school building would also house a middle-level enrichment center and the buildings would receive a technology upgrade. Mountain View Middle School would be closed.

 Taxpayers can expect an increase of 86 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, which would increase East Valley’s total levy and bond tax rates to $4.39 per $1,000.

 If the bond passes, the district expects $32.5 million in state matching funds.

 Nathan Olson, communications manager for the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, said those funds come from timber sales from trust lands and other sources such as lottery sales. The funds can only be used for school construction.

 “Since 1998, the state has provided state matching funds to every project that has requested the funds,” Olson said. “Typically, we’ll get 40-60 projects on our list, and the legislature gives the authority to release the funds in July.”

 OSPI said that since 1989, the state has contributed $3.9 billion to 1,315 school construction projects.

 Olson said the office won’t know the status of projects until the capital budget is released. The legislature’s session is scheduled to end by April 24, and the details of the capital budget are expected to come out around that time.

 An April 26 bond vote “is too late to be included on the list of 2011 projects; it wouldn’t receive the state matching funds until 2012,” Olson said.

 Voters must return their ballots by April 26. The bond needs a supermajority of 60 percent to pass.

– Lisa Leinberger, staff writer


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