Spokane Public Schools will be seeking voters’ approval for a $200 million bond and near $300 million levy to be collected over three years, following the school board’s approval at Wednesday’s meeting.
The school board voted unanimously to approve the resolution. Voters will decide these proposals in the special election in February.
If passed, the bond would account for a yearly average of $1.36 in property taxes per $1,000 in assessed property value over the next three years. The levy, which would fund existing programs, would be renewed to a rate of $2.50 per $1,000 each year. If approved, the measure would keep the total property tax rate for schools at around $6 per $1,000 in assessed property value in the next three years of collection.
“The dollars that you pay out of your pocket for public education is going to be stable,” Superintendent Adam Swinyard said.
Bonds pay for construction projects, building improvements, technology and security systems.
The proposed $200 million in this cycle would be allocated to replacing Adams and Madison elementary schools, and the design plans for replacing Balboa and Indian Trail elementary schools. It would fund upgrades at Chase Middle School, an addition and modernization at Garry Middle School and the modernization of the oldest section of North Central High School, which was last updated in the 1980s. It would pay for upgrades at the Libby Center, Spokane Public Montessori and an addition to the Community School.
School board members also discussed a potential partnership with municipalities that are seeking to pass bonds in 2024. Bordering Franklin Park and slated for replacement, Madison Elementary may include gym space to be used by the community. The district could expand the school’s footprint into Franklin Park, offering more gym space.
“This next bond, something we’ve explored in our conversations is about a wellness center inside of the school that would have four full-sized courts as well as a youth center,” Swinyard said. “So it would be an elementary school, a wellness center, a youth center.”
While still in the initial conceptual phase, the partnership mirrors that between the school district and the Spokane Public Library during the 2018 bond cycle. Through that partnership, half of Shaw Middle School’s library is accessible to the public while the other half is for students, separated by a divider during school hours.
In this way, schools become a setting for community activities, School Board President Mike Wiser said.
“Madison could become a larger hub for sports and boys and girls club sorts of activities,” Wiser said. “We would not only gain more access for our students, but the community would be getting better access to courts; basketball, pickleball, that sort of thing.”
Levy money constitutes approximately 14% of the district’s operating budget, paying for expenditures that fall outside of the state’s funding of basic education. This includes staff such as teachers for lower class sizes, aids, counselors, librarians and safety staff, extracurriculars like sports and clubs, students’ laptops and some curricula.
“We had a great consistent plan for our levy renewals and great community support as well for the ability to provide the funding to provide the full services that our families and community expect, so it has my full support,” Wiser said.