Though an official decision isn’t expected until next month, the Enumclaw School District Board of Directors is signaling a preference toward one of its bond scenarios.
Just in case you missed the last few reports, the board introduced three bond options to school district residents last June with the goal of getting one of the scenarios on the February 2023 ballot.
In short, the first scenario is what the district considers just “essential and immediate needs” — demolishing the Byron Kibler and J.J. Smith elementary schools to make way for a new grade school; construct another elementary in Black Diamond to cover the expected exponential rise of young students coming to the area; and various other technological and security upgrades to all the other school buildings.
Scenario number two includes all of the above, plus constructing a new performing arts center at the high school.
And scenario three is everything but the kitchen sink — the new elementary schools, the performing arts center, and a year-round accessible sports arena that can double as a dedicated space for graduation and other events.
It appears the board is leaning toward the third option, as of its Oct. 17 meeting.
According to Superintendent Shaun Carey, the district collected thoughts on the bond scenarios from roughly 763 local residents. Some of the opinions came from a Thought Exchange session, an online polling platform, while others were gathered in-person at various events over the last few months.
About 287 opinions were gathered on Thought Exchange, with the plurality (70) supporting the third scenario. Coming in second (50) were residents voicing they would vote against a bond, and scenario one came in with the third-most (40) positive mentions.
In person, 382 residents said they would support bond scenario three, while only 51 people said they’d support scenario two, and 45 were for scenario one.
“The total of 763 participants, having conversations with us in a number of different ways, we would recommend to the board of directors that they consider scenario three as the potential choice for a bond,” Carey said, followed by the unofficial opinions of the board members.
“We really wanted to community to have a voice in this process… we all wanted to hear from the community,” said Julianne DeShayes. “Based on the data we have, what the community wants is scenario three. I recommend that we proceed with that scenario.”
Jennifer Kent and Lori Metschan agreed, along with Tyson Gamblin.
“We not only have to look at what’s in front of us now, but what is coming down the road. And we have to think about our kids and how to best serve them,” he said. “I’m in favor of option three.”
The only dissenting voice was Paul Fisher.
“In this time of inflation, rising prices, and not knowing the future and where that inflation and where cost of goods and heating our homes and gasoline is going to go… My vote is to go with option one,” he said, though he mentioned that he sees the value in a new performing arts center and sports stadium.
Now that district administration has a solid direction to head in, residents can expect more accurate cost and tax rate estimates in the near future.
Until then, here are the district’s current estimates, which haven’t shifted since the last update in September.
The first bond option, which includes two new elementary schools and various tech and security upgrades, comes with an estimated price tag of $181 million.
To fund this project, the bond would come with a combined tax rate (which includes what the bond adds to the district’s EP&O levy, the current tech levy and the remaining payments on the 2015 bond) of $4.26 per $1,000 in assessed property value.
Adding a performing arts center to the bond (which also means not having to upgrade the current auditorium) comes at an estimated cost of $221 million and a tax rate of $4.53.
And option three, which adds the sports arena on top of everything else, can cost upward of $243 million, with a tax rate of $4.67.