Bond/Levy Information

Parents, Staff, Students and Community Members,

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a bond and a levy?

Bonds are for building, levies are for learning!

A levy is a local tax. It supplements the general fund which pays for operational costs of the school district such as salaries, benefits, utilities, fuel costs, supplies, equipment, athletics, extracurricular activities and special programs. Levy dollars cannot be used for renovation or construction costs. A levy requires a simple majority voter approval (51%) and can be approved up to a four-year term.

Levies are raised from property tax and the levy rate is expressed in terms of dollars per thousand dollars of assessed property value. For example, a home assessed at $200,000 with a voter approved levy of $2.00 would equal $400 per year in taxes. ($200,000 / $1,000 X 2.00 = $400).

In Ellensburg, our local school levy makes up 17.3% of our total revenue, the state contributes 75.3%, and federal 5.4%. The last 2% of our revenue is driven from local resources donations, grants, fees and fines.

A bond is voter approved debt that funds construction and renovation projects that levies, by law, cannot fund. You can think of a bond like a home mortgage, with long term payoff plans and low interest rates. A bond requires a 60% voter approval and can have a re-payment plan structured up to 40 years.

What are the options currently being considered by the school board?

There are currently two options being considered by the school board.

Option one :

The plan is to modernize Lincoln for continued use as an elementary school, build a new pre-K / K building, AND new a grade 1-5 building. This plan adds 900 seats to our district for a total of 2,025 seat capacity. With the requirement to purchase two new pieces of land and associated construction and renovation costs, the approximate total cost of this project to the community is 66 million AFTER about 8 million in state assistance we will receive.
The estimated cost per additional seat is $73,227.

Option two:

This plan is to re purpose Lincoln as a community center or for another community purpose, and build two new K-5 elementary schools. This plan adds 609 seats to our district for a total of 1,728 seat capacity. This plan also requires the purchase of two pieces of land. That, with associated construction costs brings the estimate of this project to 54 million dollars AFTER 8 million in state assistance we will receive.
Estimated cost per additional seat is $88,307

To summarize, option one will house 291 additional students and cost $15,000 less per seat. Option two will cost an estimated 12 million less total.

What does Option 1 include?

Option 1

  • New 1-5 elementary school (500 student capacity)
  • New Developmental Preschool and Kindergarten building (400 student capacity)
  • Modernize Lincoln for use as a school grades 1-5
  • Purchase of two pieces of land (one 10 acre and one 5-7 acre)
  • Adds 900 seats to our district
  • 2,025 seat capacity for the district at elementary level
  • Approximately $66,000,000 cost to community
  • Estimated cost per additional seat is $73,227

What does Option 2 include?

Option 2

  • New K-5 elementary school in-lieu of Lincoln (500 student capacity)
  • New K-5 elementary school (500 student capacity)
  • Re-purpose Lincoln for district and community needs. State law prohibits using Lincoln for K-12 education if we build new in-lieu of Lincoln
  • Purchase of two pieces of land (10 acres each)
  • Adds 609 seats to our district
  • 1,734 seat capacity at elementary level
  • Approximately $54,000,000 cost to community
  • Estimated cost per additional seat is $88,307

What are the current enrollment numbers for each elementary school?

Lincoln: 515

Mount Stuart: 496

Valley View: 559

What are the internal capacity numbers for each current elementary building?

Lincoln: 391

Mount Stuart: 352

Valley View: 382

Based on 127 sq/ft per student reflected by modern day class sizes.

What are the major limitations in each building TODAY?

  • Multiple portables need fencing around them for security purposes
  • Cafeteria size is over capacity
  • Food Service Capacity for making meals
  • Specialist schedules adapted (music, library, gym, art about every other week)
  • Playground Size
  • Lack of Gym Space
  • All classroom space has been utilized
  • Closets are being used as classroom space
  • Some teachers must use carts to deliver instruction to students
  • Gym classes are not meeting state requirements for weekly PE class time
  • No air conditioning (Lincoln and Mount Stuart)
  • Crowded playgrounds
  • More people have had to be hired for playground supervision

What are the projections for enrollment over the next few years?

  • Enrollment Increase started with a large kindergarten class during the 2013 -14 school year
  • Since that time kindergarten enrollment continues to come in at 250+ students
  • 17%+ increase in enrollment over the last five years
  • This is an average increase of approximately 30 students per year in comparison to typical enrollment
  • Students continue to transfer into the district at all grade levels

What has been done with the buildings thus far to help the needs of our elementary learners?

Building Configuration

  • Four portable classrooms at Valley View
  • Two portable classrooms at Mt. Stuart
  • Two portable classrooms at Lincoln
  • Converted auxiliary space to classrooms
  • Displaced intervention programs (Title, Highly Capable) for additional classrooms
  • Increased seating capacity in cafeterias

Lincoln Elementary School

  • 4 classroom teachers
  • Additional Intervention Teacher
  • Part time specialist
  • ½ time assistant principal
  • Additional paraprofessional support
  • Incorporated Counselor in Specialist Rotation
  • Adapted Specialist Schedule

Mt. Stuart Elementary School

  • 5 classroom teachers
  • ½ time assistant principal
  • Part Time Specialist
  • Additional Paraprofessional Support
  • Incorporated Counselor in Specialist Rotation
  • Adapted Specialist Schedule

Valley View Elementary

  • 5 Classroom Teachers
  • Assistant Principal
  • Part Time Specialist
  • Additional Paraprofessional Support
  • Math Lab Specialist
  • Incorporated Counselor in Specialist Rotation
  • Adapted Specialist Schedule

Why not just add more portables?

One of the things often forgotten when we add portables to a building is that the common areas of a building (offices, music rooms, counseling, gym, cafeteria, bathrooms) are built for a certain internal capacity. What happens when we add portables, then, is that the internal capacity cannot best meet the needs and the safety of the learners.

Number of current classrooms in portables:

Lincoln: 6

Mount Stuart: 6

Valley View: 10

What will happen with Lincoln?

If option 2 is chosen, Lincoln can no longer remain a K-12 instructional space.

Repurposing for other non-K-12 student and community support services would cost up to $10m.

What has the community involvement been throughout this process?

What is a Developmental Preschool? Is it required?

A Developmental Preschool a service for students with special developmental needs. We are required to have the program and have housed the program at CWU for over 15 years.

How much do we pay in rent to CWU for Developmental Preschool and Excel Alternative High School?

$43,000 per year for both programs.

What does new-in-lieu mean?

That means, in order to capture state resources for the project, we have to take a building out of the traditional K-12 rotation, and build a new building for that purpose.

What is state assistance? How does it apply to this bond process?

We will receive approximately $8,000,000 in state assistance regardless of which option we choose. State assistance helps reduce the tax burden of the voters by supplementing the bond through state funding. This comes with many "strings" attached. The committee discussed this at length; if you'd like to know more, the videos are avaliable.

Where can I find more information?