Olympia School District and Yelm Community Schools both have measures on the Feb. 13 ballot.
In Yelm, voters will be asked to approve a $76 million bond to rebuild Yelm Middle School and Southworth Elementary School to accommodate more students and to build a 10,000-square-foot addition at Prairie Elementary School.
The work would include removing 34 portable classrooms at those schools and doing security upgrades at the district’s other schools.
Officials say the work is needed to alleviate overcrowding. Yelm Middle School is at 157 percent capacity, while Southworth Elementary School is at 167 percent capacity. The district has added more than 1,300 students since its last bond passed in 2003 and expects to add more than 400 students during the next five years.
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Yelm voters rejected smaller bond measures for building projects in 2015 and 2016.
Even if the bond passes, the district says the overall school tax rate would decline. That’s because the district’s maintenance and operations levy is set to go down in 2019 after lawmakers last year capped local levies as part of a new funding plan for Washington’s K-12 schools.
Bond measures require 60 percent of voters to say “yes” in order to pass.
In Olympia, voters will be asked to continue a technology and capital projects levy that would raise about $35.4 million over four years.
School district levies require a simple majority to pass.
The money would be used to develop more online curriculum, buy enough laptops so that there is one for every student in grades 3-12, and train teachers on how to use technology in the classroom.
On the safety side, the district would install a system on school buses that records when students get on and off the bus, upgrade school bus radios from analog to digital, and install paging and intercom systems in schools.
An existing technology levy expires this year; it brought in about $13.2 million over four years.
Despite the increase, district officials say the total rate for school levies from 2019 to 2022 compared to 2017 would be the same or lower. Just like in Yelm, the district’s maintenance and operations levy is set to go down — from about $3 per $1,000 of assessed value in 2018 to about $1.50 per $1,000 in 2019.