Sunnyside schools to seek passage of $16 million bond in 2019

— The Sunnyside School District School Board approved a plan to move forward in placing a $16 million bond issue on the Feb. 12, 2019 ballot.

The decision was made at its meeting Monday night.

The proposed measure will be a decrease of $2 million from the $18 million bond in April of 2018 that received a 55.4 percent approval vote.

Bond issues in Washington need supermajority approval of 60 percent for passage.

The $2 million decrease will be made up with district capital project funds and reducing the scope of the initial plan proposed earlier this year.

The April proposal was rejected in spite of the School District sharing with the community enrollment numbers are anticipated to reach more than 2,200 at the high school. The school is constructed for 1,850.

“The community shared some concerns with the costs and increasing property taxes,” Board President Sandra Linde said, explaining what the board learned after the failure of the April bond.

“In response, the board listened to the community and made reductions,” she said.  

The 2019 proposed bond will address the needs of a growing student population, which is currently in the middle and elementary schools.

As of October, the high school had a total enrollment of 2,071 students and a total capacity for 1,850, a more than 200 student difference, officials said in a press release.

Over the next several years, that number is expected to increase to approximately 357 students, based on the 2,207 students enrolled in fourth through seventh grade. This number only accounts for students currently enrolled in Sunnyside schools and does not include any students who will move into the district.

To address the issue, the district wanted to construct another 2-story building at the high school campus.

Two other projects were included in the bond on the April ballot — increased space for performing arts and the relocation of the football field. The football/soccer field would have become part of the track as a multi-sport facility with all the accoutrements of an athletic facility.

“We must address the needs of our students and community in regard to school facilities in Sunnyside,” Superintendent Kevin McKay said. 

“When the need is clear, and more than a majority of the voters approved the plan in April 2018, the board felt it is in the best interest of the district and community to go back to the voters and ask for their support again,” he said. 

If the bond is approved, the Sunnyside School District would receive approximately $6.5 million in additional funding through the state construction assistance program.

The combination of funds would build additional classrooms, multi-use learning spaces, curricular, co-curricular and community use facilities.  The money will also be used for additional parking, sidewalks, courtyards and maintenance access roads on the high school campus.

State construction assistance funds are provided to districts that have seen increased growth that has outpaced additions to facilities and gain approval of a bond issue by the voters. 


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