Schools seek bond money | Part 3

Editor’s note: School districts are gearing up for ballot measures seeking hundreds of millions of dollars. In February, three area districts will be asking property owners to provide dollars to significantly upgrade their public facilities. Each is hoping to follow the lead of the Enumclaw School District, which had a proposal authorized a year ago. This week, we look at the proposal put up by the Sumner School District. The previous issues covered the White River bond proposal and the Carbonado School District proposal.

Looking first and foremost to meets the demands of an expanding student population, the Sumner School District is preparing to ask district voters for more than $160 million.

The funds will be sought as part of a bond issue expected to be offered on the February 2016 ballot. Everything is in place, but members of the Sumner School Board have not made the decision final. According to a district spokesperson, the board is prepared to vote on the matter during a Nov. 18 session.

Until things are made official, the district is not going public with anticipated tax rates tied to the bond. The spokesperson only said the district is working to keep taxes as flat as possible for taxpayers, adding that a bond that paid for the new Lakeridge Middle School and upgrades to four other schools is about to be paid off.

A committee has worked since 2013 to arrive at a shopping list of needs throughout the district. That group consists primarily of school district employees, but also includes citizens and representatives from the cities of Sumner and Bonney Lake.

According to information provided by the district, there are two factors coming into play. First is a state mandate to provide full-day kindergarten and to reduce class sizes, factors that have the district’s elementary schools filled to capacity. Second are projections that a flood of new students are on the way.

The school district reported to be the fastest-growing in Pierce County expects its population to increase during the next decade from about 9,000 students to approximately 10,700.

In looking to add facilities and renovate others, the district looks to increase its student capacity by 2019. The bill for the plans under consideration tops $162 million; construction would be funded through additional property taxes, state matching grants and impact fees paid by developers.

Bond boosters have identified needs in three geographic parts of the district.

The Valley

The valley floor is home to Sumner High, Sumner Middle School and two elementary schools, Maple Lawn and Daffodil Valley.

Plans call for renovation and expansion of the high school, resulting in a cost of $57 million. Additional science classrooms would be added, as would a commons and cafeteria, along with additional seating in the gymnasium. The library, music room and choir room would be moved and there would be upgrades to meet technology and security needs.

The district has identified $13.5 million for an early-learning center that would be added to the Maple Lawn/Sumner Middle School complex. The building would contain classrooms for kindergarten students and programs for those with special needs.

The Hill

The region atop Elhi Hill is home to Lakeridge Middle School, Crestwood Elementary, Emerald Hills Elementary and Bonney Lake Elementary.

Emerald Hills is the oldest elementary school in the district. Plans call for spending $28 million to update and modernize the facility.

In the South

The rapidly-growing region is served by Bonney Lake High School, Mountain View Middle School and three elementaries Liberty Ridge, Victor Falls and Donald Eismann.

To meet future demand, the district wants to build a new elementary school. The district’s share of the cost is pegged at $28 million. Another $15 million is figured for additional classrooms at Mountain View Middle School and $12.1 million is identified for improvements to Bonney Lake High. Those improvements would include a performing arts center and covering the “home” seating at the adjacent athletic complex.

Throughout the District

With a $6 million price tag, the district hopes to install turf fields and lighting at various sites around the district, providing year-round availability for students and the community.

An additional $4 has been identified to improve security systems in some of the district’s older buildings.