Snoqualmie Valley school bond is back on ballot for April 26

March 15, 2011

By Staff

The Snoqualmie Valley School Board voted in favor of bouncing back this spring from its closest defeat in recent memory.

The $56 million school bond to build a new middle school will appear in an April 26 ballot, thanks to a unanimous 5-0 board vote. The Feb. 8 vote on the bond fell two one-thousandths of a percent shy of the 60 percent needed.

“It’s two one-thousandths of a percent: A supermajority of our Valley said yes. I stand with the majority, with the people who believe this is the right thing to do,” said Board President Dan Popp.

The bond proposal will remain the same with the exception of a 2-cent increase, from 47 to 49 cents, in the amount per $1,000 of property value the bond will cost.

Higher interest rates are the culprit for the increase, Snoqualmie Valley Schools Superintendent Joel Aune said.

Valley residents from both sides of the issue urged board members to see things their way.

Activist David Spring urged the board to delay returning the bond to a ballot until a clearer financial picture emerged from Olympia.

“We can’t afford another bond failure,” former Snoqualmie Valley Schools Foundation director Carolyn Simpson said to board members. “What’s the rush? Making a hasty decision would be inappropriate at this time.”

Stephen Kangas, who also opposed the bond, said decisions more important than building a new school loomed.

“What’s more important: Teachers or classrooms?” he asked board members. “Where’s student safety among your priorities? You have the time. Take the time to think this through.”

Supporters of the bond said waiting would be counterproductive.

“In the time we have waited, we have seen the interest rate go up by two cents,” Valley parent Scott Vermeulen said. “If we wait more, everything will cost more.”

Fellow dad Brent Lutz agreed with Vermeulen, saying district administrators should not wait to act until a problem had become an emergency.

Mount Si High School coach Sean Sundwall said the board had a moral obligation to put the bond back on the ballot.

“Regardless of what Olympia does,” he said, “We still have to house our kids. Give voters the same bond in April and we will deliver our children a third middle school.”

Unanimous vote aside, board member Scott Hodgins said he worried about the cost of maintaining the new building, which might range between $600,000 and $1 million.

Nevertheless, he voted yes. He said he promised when first elected to never vote against a bond.

“I don’t care what we decide to build, this is the time to do it,” Hodgins said. “Even if we don’t need it, is this a good time to build it? Absolutely. We don’t know today what our funding is going to be and what the population projections are going to be in 2013. I don’t have a crystal ball.”

Sebastian Moraga: 392-6434, ext. 221, or smoraga@snovalleystar.com.

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