Enumclaw School Board makes it official, bond is off to public vote

To no one’s great surprise, members of the Enumclaw School Board voted last week to ask district voters to approve a bond issue in excess of $68 million.

The unanimous board decision authorized a vote on the April 28 election. Passage will require 60 percent support, rather than a simple majority decision.

If approved, the bond measure would finance the building of a new Black Diamond Elementary School and substantial upgrades to Enumclaw High. The board had been considering such a move since last year, taking input from a paid consultant and hosting public sessions along the way.

When it comes to dollars and cents, the district has positioned itself to bill the bond measure as a “no new taxes” endeavor. Property owners throughout the district have been paying $1.60 for every $1,000 of property value, stemming from a bond measure that paid for Thunder Mountain Middle School. The current proposal would take over at the same $1.60 rate and, over time, generate more than $68 million.

Due to the identified need for the two projects, Enumclaw would qualify for an additional $18.1 million in state money. Combined, the district would spend almost $87 million on the two projects.

The cost of a new Black Diamond Elementary School, to be built on the site of the present school, is pegged at more than $23 million. Construction would begin in the summer of 2016 and be finished by September 2017. Students would be bused to Enumclaw for a year.

Presently, more than 300 students attend the Black Diamond school and 40 percent are housed in portable buildings separate from the primary building. A new school would see increased enrollment, with all students under one roof.

The high school renovation calls for spending of more than $63 million. Construction calls for two phases, the first to be completed in 2017 and the second a year later. The end result would be a two-story structure on the south side of the EHS campus; replaced would be aging classrooms, the school library, science labs and the music facility, along with the school auditorium and gymnasium.

Security is a major issue and the district is emphasizing both construction projects would eliminate numerous outside entrances to the school buildings.

More information about the bond measure can be found on the district website, www.enumclaw.wednet.edu/departments/facilities/facility_conditions/default.aspx.