Enumclaw School District steps toward asking for $65 million

Making significant improvements to Enumclaw High School and replacing the aging Black Diamond Elementary would require somewhere in excess of $80 million, with about three-quarters of that sum coming from local pocketbooks.

Making significant improvements to Enumclaw High School and replacing the aging Black Diamond Elementary would require somewhere in excess of $80 million, with about three-quarters of that sum coming from local pocketbooks.

It’s a financial investment voters will likely be asked to make during a spring election.

A final, official decision will not be made until January, but everything is falling into line as follows: members of the Enumclaw School Board and district administration are now in the public information phase; numbers will continue to be firmed up through the winter, with a board resolution coming in January; followed by a public vote in April.

The district’s bond request would require a super majority for passage, or 60 percent support.

Proposed construction

The district would like to build a two-story structure on the southern edge of the current Enumclaw High campus that would replace existing but aging classrooms, along with the library, science labs, music facility, auditorium and gymnasium. According to the district website, the new construction “would dovetail into the remodeled commons, offices, and art and automotive wing.”

Construction at the high school is estimated at approximately $62 million.

Plans for Black Diamond call for replacing the existing school with a new facility, built on the same ground. For a full school year, during construction, Black Diamond students would be transported to Enumclaw where they would fill the J.J. Smith building.

The cost for the new elementary school is estimated at about $20 million.

Security an issue

When Superintendent Mike Nelson went before the Enumclaw City Council recently to explain district plans, he emphasized that student safety was a major concern.

He noted that Enumclaw High now houses students in 10 portable buildings on campus and, at Black Diamond, 40 percent of the student body is housed in portables. That makes for a lot of entry points, Nelson said, allowing anyone into school spaces.

If construction is completed as planned, Enumclaw High would have just three outside entrances instead of the present 70. The current Black Diamond Elementary now has more than 20 entry doors; a new school would have just one.

Financing plans

If district voters were to approve a bond between $60 million and $65 million, the district would receive an additional $18.1 million from the state.

The district will be pitching the fact that local sales taxes would not increase with passage of the bond issue. That’s because an existing bond, passed years ago to build Thunder Mountain Middle School, will be paid off at the end of 2016.

The Thunder Mountain bond now bumps up the districtwide property tax rate by a sum of $1.60 for every $1,000 of assessed property value. That means the owner of property assessed at $250,000 pays $400 annually due to the existing bond.

Tax bills will drop by $400 at the end of 2016 or be replaced with the potential new bond.

Public input sought

The district planned two open houses to explain the proposed bond and hear public comments. The first was last night (Tuesday, Nov. 4) in the Enumclaw High library; the second session is planned for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 6, at Black Diamond Elementary.

Additionally, the district is hosting an online survey. It can be found at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/bondsurvey2014. The survey also can be accessed by visiting the Enumclaw School District website and clicking on the appropriate link on the home page. The survey will be available until Dec. 1.

More in News

Burn ban in place for Pierce County

The weather may be getting colder, but burn bans have been called for multiple counties due to deteriorating air quality.

Enumclaw’s Van Hulse to compete in national music showcase

Erik Van Hulse, who also goes by his stage name Siboh Nisoh, has been working toward this big break for almost as long as he can remember.

Kiwanis honor four as Students of the Month

Members of the Buckley Kiwanis Club honored a trio of “Students of the Month” during an Nov. 16 gathering.

Pepper addresses ‘false’ recall charges in community meeting

The meeting, held at the Black Diamond library, was a chance for voters to have “an opportunity to hear from both sides before they decide to sign,” the recall petition, Pepper wrote in an announcement for the meeting.

Wilbanks wins close Buckley race

It took a month, but Luke Wilbanks finally knows he’ll be occupying a seat on the Buckley City Council.

Buckley Council race gets recount; results due Dec. 6

The closest general election outcome in Pierce County was found in Buckley, where a razor-thin difference in a City Council race forced a recount by the Pierce County Elections Department.

Enumclaw Council roster rapidly changing

A significant shake-up of the Enumclaw City Council is well under way. Soon to exit city government is Mayor Liz Reynolds, who opted against seeking another term after eight years in the city’s highest office. Already off the City Council is Jan Molinaro, who was elected to fill the mayoral post during the Nov. 7 general election and has stepped away from council.

Santa touring Bonney Lake, Sumner neighborhoods

Santa will once again be joining East Pierce Fire and Rescue around Bonney Lake, Sumner and surrounding communities to wish everyone happy holidays. He’s already toured Milton and Sumner, but there are still many more routes for him to complete before he heads back to the North Pole.

Most Read