Voters to decide school bond Tuesday

By Brenda Sexton, The Courier-Herald

Enumclaw School District officials and supporters are making a last-ditch effort to educate the community on the need for a $45 million bond that would build a new J.J. Smith Elementary School and renovate a number of other schools in the district.

The bond goes before voters Tuesday. The polls are open on election day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Validation requires a 60 percent favorable majority and 1,418 "yes" votes.

Absentee ballots, which went out April 28, must be signed and postmarked or delivered to the King County Elections Office on or before election day.

"We desperately need it," Superintendent Art Jarvis said of the proposition.

The Enumclaw School Board decided to place the bond before voters after thoroughly examining its facilities, a couple which are 50 or more years old, and eyeing current low interest rates. Despite tough economic times, the continuing transition of its reinvention process and looming budget cuts, the board felt the time was right to run the bond.

Jarvis is asking the community not to get distracted by other issues, as the facility needs will not go away. The buildings, after the work, will hold up for future generations, Jarvis emphasized.

"It's tremendously important to the community," he said.

If approved, the bond would build a new J.J. Smith Elementary School at its current grounds, rebuild parts of Kibler Elementary School and add science and music classrooms at Enumclaw High School. Other projects outlined for bond money include parking and roof upgrades at Southwood Elementary; modernizing at Black Diamond Elementary; modernizing and additions at Westwood Elementary; roofing, mechanical system, fire alarm system, intercom/clock system and handicap-access upgrades at Enumclaw Middle School; and fund parking lot and road way improvements for McDougall Street, the transportation center and EMS.

If passed and once construction begins, the district anticipates receiving matching funds from the state of approximately $10 million.

District officials say the new bond will cost voters 79 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. They figure an Enumclaw resident with property assessed at $188,000 would pay $148 extra a year.

Members of the Committee to Support the Issues have set up a Web site for information at Displays of the proposed J.J. Smith building and improvements at EHS and Kibler are available at the Enumclaw Public Library and various locations around town.

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