NSD board approves ballot measure to fund construction of new Bothell high school

The Northshore School District will ask voters to approve funding for a new high school in the overcrowded north Bothell area of the district. - Reporter file photo
The Northshore School District will ask voters to approve funding for a new high school in the overcrowded north Bothell area of the district.
— image credit: Reporter file photo

The Northshore School District Board of Directors approved a ballot measure to fund the building of a new high school in north Bothell during its meeting on Tuesday night.

Board members voted 4-1 to move forward with the plan for a $177.5 million bond measure mainly to build a new high school, along with an education maintenance and operations levy and a capital technology levy.

"This is kind of the end of a very involved process," said Northshore School District (NSD) Superintendent Larry Francois, who has met with residents and community leaders during the past year to answer questions about the issue.

If voters approve the measure in February, the district would go forward with grade level reconfiguration throughout the district.

For taxpayers, the measures would replace the expiring bond and levies. A home valued at $400,000 in 2013 will pay an annual tax rate of $2,116. In 2014, that rate would increase by $20 with an expected home valuation increase of $28,000.

During the course of the new measures, the tax rate would increase on average of $62.20 per year during the four years. That same $400,000 home in 2013 will increase in value to $481,718 in 2018. The tax rate is based on the value of the home. The rate per $1,000 of assessed value will actually decrease from $5.29 in 2013 to $4.95 in 2018.

The ballot measure would raise $200 million from taxpayers between 2015-18 for the education maintenance and operations levy and $32 million for the capital technology levy.

The new 250,000-square-foot high school would be built on the 61-acre property north and west of Fernwood Elementary School that the district purchased in 2012 and accommodate 1,500-1,600 students. Construction could begin in spring of 2014, with the opening of the new high school and grade reconfiguration slated for fall of 2017. This year’s fifth-graders would attend their freshman year at the new 9-12 grade level high school.

The estimated cost for the new high school is $130 million, with $17 million of the bond going toward the completion of Woodinville High School's renovation.

"We struggled to figure out what are the necessary projects that we have to include," said Francois. "The tipping point for the board was the final phase of the Woodinville High School remodel."

Francois said that the the board's sentiment was the promise that the rebuild would be in three phases.

The rest of the bond money would go towards various maintenance projects around the districts, such as replacing old roofs and boilers.

The need for the new high school is linked to exponential growth in the north end of Bothell. As of spring 2011, the NSD predicted more than 3,300 new housing units in various stages of completion.

Overall, the district’s enrollment is down from a high point in 2005, but it has been trending upwards since 2008. The most conservative estimates show that the NSD area will add more than 15,000 residents by 2020. The 2010 census showed 122,684 residents within the district’s boundaries.

The district’s Enrollment Demographics Task Force (EDTF) began studying the issue two years ago. The EDTF is a 15-member task force that recommended last October that the district build a new high school, as opposed to building a new elementary school at a lower cost and smaller capacity to remedy the overcrowding issue.

But the high school alone would not remedy the overcrowding issues. The grade level reconfiguration would bring the district to a K-5 elementary, 6-8 middle and 9-12 high schools alignment and implement associated boundary adjustments.

Northshore and Puyallup are the only remaining large school districts in the state with a K-6, 7-9 and 10-12 grade level configuration.

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