In February 2016, Vashon voters rejected a $27 million bond to repair and upgrade facilities throughout the school district. In response to that defeat, the school board drastically scaled back its proposal to include $9.9 million in the highest priority projects.
To reduce the size of the bond proposal, the school board was guided by three related principles:
•Balance the goals of improving facilities for our students and staff and holding down taxes for our neighbors.
•Extend the life of existing facilities when we can do so by making relatively small investments.
•Minimize environmental impact and maximize flexibility of use when we build or substantially remodel district facilities.
The less costly proposal, which will come to voters for an April 25 special election, would accomplish the following:
1.Repair, replace, and improve portions of Chautauqua Elementary School, McMurray Middle School, and Student/FamilyLink facilities.
2.Replace the 50-year old Vashon Island High School cinder track and the playing field within it.
3.Construct a new maintenance shop and repurpose the district’s oldest buildings for storage.
Under this proposal, annual taxes on a $500,000 home would increase by less than $5 per month.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why replace and modify components of Chautauqua, McMurray, and Building K?
At Chautauqua, both students and teachers are still using furniture that was moved from the old Vashon and Burton elementary schools when the building was opened more than 20 years ago, some of the furniture is broken, and most has seen better days. Chautauqua’s exterior paint is approaching the end of its useful life. The kindergarten playground has become crowded due to the new full day kindergarten program, and shelter is required for inclement weather.
At McMurray, lockers are broken, showers have become de facto storage spaces, and window frames, carpets and teacher furniture are worn out. The exterior paint is approaching the end of its useful life. At building K, which now serves students in StudentLink and FamilyLink, the roof and floor coverings are worn out, mechanical and plumbing systems are on the verge of failure, and interior spaces provide little flexibility for current programs. Updating these components in all three buildings would cost an estimated $2,004,503.
Why build a new maintenance building?
The school district’s maintenance shop now occupies the 75-year-old wooden building at the corner of 204th and Vashon Highway that once housed the district’s kindergarten. The building is not suitable for the increasing demands and expectations placed on the maintenance staff. The new building would house workshops and store frequently used supplies. The existing maintenance building would be repurposed for storage space. Building F, a remnant of the old high school originally built in 1930 that is currently used for storage, has a roof at the end of its useful life. Estimated cost of this work is $2,422,997.
Why replace the Vashon Island High School track and field?
The current field is worn out: Grass is patchy, soil is compacted, and the crown, which should run down the center of the field, has shifted to one side. The track does not drain and turns to mush after a freeze and thaw. Additionally, it is 440 yards long, rather than the 400 meters that has been standard for track events since the mid-1970s.
In addition, the grandstand has metal fasteners that have deteriorated over time and provides no wheelchair access. Maintaining and improving access to the grandstand, installing an eight-lane track and a synthetic turf field, and also replacing existing lights with LEDs would cost an estimated $5,300,000.
What are the costs and benefits of an all-weather field?
The construction cost of all-weather turf is about 20% higher than natural grass but it can be used 300-400% more than grass, which must be “rested” for several months each year. Additional benefits include water savings of 1.2 – 1.5 million gallons annually, and a 70% reduction in field maintenance costs.
What type of “fill” will be used in the artificial turf?
The board has decided that the infill material will not be “crumb rubber”. The infill will be cork, coconut fiber, or some other non-toxic product.
What provision has been made to pay for the eventual replacement of the artificial turf?
All-weather turf typically lasts for about 12 – 15 years, after which the carpet layer needs to be replaced. The school district is allocating $70,000 annually to a dedicated reserve to pay for the turf replacement. The turf is 100% recyclable.
How much will the bond proposal under consideration cost the “average” homeowner?
The payment structure would influence a homeowner’s annual cost. The lower the initial tax burden, the higher the island’s total principal and interest payment, and vice versa. Under the scenarios being considered, annual taxes on a $500,000 home would increase taxes by a maximum of $5 per month.
What is a bond?
A bond is a loan that must be approved by the voters. Capital bonds are used to pay for facility improvements that cost more than the district can pay for with levies. Usually these improvements have a life span of twenty years or more. To issue a bond, the district enters into an agreement with a lender at a fixed interest rate with a fixed repayment plan – typically for a period of 15 to 21 years.
What is the difference between the general fund and the capital facilities fund?
The district pays for its operating expenses out of the general fund. These expenses include staffing, maintenance, instructional materials and supplies, transportation, and student services. The capital fund finances long-term building and equipment expenditures. Capital dollars are completely separate from the general fund and by law cannot be used to buy classroom supplies or pay instructional staff. However, careful expenditure of capital dollars can positively affect the general fund. For example, by installing energy-efficient lighting systems and fields that conserve water use, utility costs can be reduced and the savings used to support classroom activities. General and capital funds are financed through federal, state, and local taxes.
How does the current economic climate affect the construction costs?
Past experience has shown that potential costs for a construction project of this size can increase with the passage of time due to the currently busy construction market, and inflationary pressures. Part of the planning process for the project includes contingencies to accommodate estimated inflationary costs.
Where can I get more information?
The district’s website, www.vashonsd.org, has current information on this bond proposal. You may also call the superintendent’s office, 206.463.8534 for further questions and information.