The Enumclaw School District Proposition No. 1 bond for school renovation and construction is on the April 28 special election ballot.
It is an all-mail election. The ballots and voters pamphlets were mailed last week and must be postmarked by the 28th to be valid; or, ballots can be taken to a drop box location or a special “drop-off van.”
The bond proposal must receive a 60 percent “yes” vote to pass with a minimum turnout of 12,572.
If the proposition is approved the district will build a new Black Diamond Elementary School on the grounds where the current elementary building sits.
The measure also would pay for an extensive remodel of Enumclaw High School.
The proposition would issue a maximum of $68.5 million in general obligation bonds maturing within 21 years.
Superintendent Mike Nelson said the bond would not increase the current tax rate for property owners, which is $1.60 per $1,000 of assessed property value. The measure extends the bond that was passed for the construction of Thunder Mountain Middle School about 20 years ago. The Thunder Mountain bond expires in a year.
Nelson said members of the Enumclaw School Board developed a strategy to get the Black Diamond Elementary and Enumclaw High School in very good condition, rather than continuing to patch up problems.
“You can only do add-ons for so long,” Nelson said.
According to Nelson, both the high school and elementary school received additions and were patched from the 1960s to the present. He said in April 2014 the board began looking at the condition of the schools and decided the best plan was a major renovation of the high school and building a new elementary in Black Diamond.
Nelson said one of the most important issues the bond addresses is, “allowing us to build safe campus structures. What we would be able to do is lockdown kids in parts of the building (for protection from an intruder) and exit others if the need arose.”
At the high school, Nelson said, there are currently more than 70 entrances. The new design will have three.
He added the design would, “increase the time an intruder would need to get into a school and decrease the time for police to get in.”
The Black Diamond Elementary School design would have one major entrance.
The Enumclaw High plan is to build a two-story structure connecting to the current commons.
“Two stories will save the taxpayers money and allows us to secure floors and sections,” Nelson said.
The current gym would be converted into a performing arts center. A new gymnasium with locker rooms would be constructed.
The plan for Black Diamond Elementary includes a complete tear down of the current building and construction of a two-story building that would house 450 students. The building would include a gymnasium, a cafeteria and a safer route for buses and parents picking up or dropping students at the school.
Nelson said he believes the improvements will make a dramatic difference in the educational environment in the enhanced opportunities for teachers and students.
“Our teachers are very excited for the improvements,” Nelson said. “Our goal is to help our students learn at the highest possible level. I want safety and I want to use the taxpayers’ money wisely.”