Tumwater might seek bond to rebuild schools

2 elementaries built in 1957 need replacement, others need overhaul, but district says taxes wouldn’t rise

lpemberton@theolympian.comNovember 14, 2013 

The Tumwater School District might ask voters to approve a $136 million bond measure to replace or remodel several schools and support other construction projects.

The School Board is set to vote Thursday on whether to place the measure on February’s ballot. The meeting is 7 p.m. at district headquarters, 621 Linwood Ave. SW, Tumwater.

If approved, the bond proceeds would pay for:

 • Replacements of Peter G. Schmidt and Littlerock elementary schools.

“Their main buildings were constructed in 1957, and they’re way past due,” superintendent Mike Kirby said.

 • Remodels and additions to Bush and Tumwater middle schools.

Each of those schools would get new science classrooms, gymnasiums and wings to house sixth-graders, Kirby said. The district would transition to a grade 6-8 middle school model in 2018, after completion of the project.

 • Remodels and renovations at East Olympia and Tumwater Hill elementary schools, which haven’t had major work in more than 20 years, Kirby said.

 • A new site for Secondary Options, the district’s alternative learning program.

“Right now they are housed at Black Hills High School, so it will be a new building,” district spokeswoman Kim Howard said.

 • Technology to support students, staff and buildings, such as new computer networks, servers, telephone and intercom systems, and computers and other devices.

 • An assortment of smaller projects around the district, including safety and security upgrades.

The district’s last bond was approved in 2003 with three votes to spare. The $37.8 million leveraged some state money and went to modernize district headquarters, add computers to every classroom and update Peter G. Schmidt, Michael T. Simmons, Black Lake and Littlerock elementary schools.

Officials intended to run a construction measure in 2009, but decided to put that off due to the sour economy, Kirby said.

If a new bond is approved, officials estimate that property owners’ tax rates would remain flat because some of the district’s older debt is slated to be paid off in 2017.

“We really are going to keep the tax rate level,” Kirby said. “Our number one goal is to not impact the taxpayers in terms of the amount they’re going to pay annually.”

The district’s 2013 tax rate for its existing levy and bond is $5.94 per $1,000 assessed value. The owner of a $200,000 home will pay an estimated $1,188 a year for the bond and levy in 2013, according to a district information sheet on the proposed bond.

With the addition of the new bond and what officials estimate for future measures, the district’s tax rate is estimated to remain flat through 2032, according to the district’s information sheet.

Lisa Pemberton: 360-754-5433 lpemberton@theolympian.com @Lisa_Pemberton

The Olympian is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service