Eastmont School District To Ask Voters For A $185 Million Bond Package
The Eastmont School District will ask voters to pass a $185 million bond package in the November election.
The money would be used to construct new classrooms and a maintenance facility as well as make repairs and upgrades to existing buildings.
The district has been holding a series of presentations at Eastmont School Board meetings to detail the bond package.
It the biggest dollar figure the district has ever asked for, and follows the completion of a six year tax levy from 2016 that saw the construction of 20 new classrooms and four cafeterias.
Eastmont Assistant Superintendent Matt Charlton says the size of the bond package reflects a major rise in construction costs.
"The cost of a school, just to build an elementary school 10 years ago would have been in the $15-20 million range," Charlton said. "That same school is now up to $35-40 million. That's the biggest reason why the amount is bigger and is going up."
The Eastmont District consists of nine campuses - six elementary schools, two middle schools and one high school.
The 2023 increase in property tax would amount to $17.83 per month or $214 a year more than in 2022, on a median priced home. The average/median value of a home in East Wenatchee is $463,000.
Financing for the 2016 tax levy is now complete, with the current rate per $1000 of assessed value at $3.47 for property owners in the district. The rate would move to $3.93 in 2023, $3.97 in 2024 and $4.09 in 2024. The district says the rate was $4.94 in 2013.
A bond package differs from a tax levy in that bonds are sold to investors who are paid back with interest over time, usually 20-25 years. Eastmont district staff members believe the property tax rate from the bonding would drop over the course of that time because of growth in population and businesses that pay into the tax.
The money from the bond package would specifically be used to repair and improve districtwide infrastructure.
Outdoor hallways would be eliminated and a secure entrance way at every school that does not have one would be created. Charlton says the district is seeing an overall rise in threats and needs channel entrance onto campuses through a single point of entry that can be monitored.
New classrooms would be built at Cascade, Kenroy, Lee and Rock Island elementary schools, with five portables being replaced at Cascade, Kenroy and Lee elementary schools.
Charlton says the four elementary schools getting updates were built in the 1950s and 60s, with one dating back to 1936.
"The basic bones of those buildings are tired," said Charlton. "We just need to do a full modernization, take down some of the infrastructure and HVAC, and just some of those types of things, and not put good money into bad by trying to maintain these really old systems."
Expansions would also be made at Sterling Junior High School, including the replacement of portables classrooms. Upgrades would be made to the athletic complex at Eastmont High School, including the addition of softball fields.
In addition, a new transportation and maintenance facility would be built on land already owned by the district at Grant Road and North Perry Avenue.
The bond package will have to receive a 60 percent supermajority approval of voters in order to move forward. Tax levies only require a simple majority of 50 percent +1.
The bond package is scheduled for the November 8 general election in the Eastmont School District.