How do bonds work?
In a bond election, voters are asked to approve a maximum amount of debt the district can take on for construction projects. With voter approval, the district will sell bonds incrementally over the next 4-6 years.
At the same time the district is taking on this new debt, we are paying off debt that has been issued over the previous 20 years which allows us to keep tax rates relatively flat even while funding these new buildings.
What will it cost?
The incremental impact to property tax rates is expected to be $0.03 per $1,000 of assessed value. For an $850,000 home, the average home value in Bellevue, the cost would be $25.50 annually or $2.13 a month. Final amounts will be based on estimated districtwide assessed property value.
How long will it last?
Bonds have a maximum maturity of 20 years from the date of the sale.
Can I buy any of the district’s bonds?
The district generally sells $100 million in bonds at once to the lowest bidding financial institution. The bonds are not available for individual investors.
How is new construction paying for schools?
New construction will pay its share when completed. New construction increases the total assessed value for the district. The tax rate to repay the bonds is determined based on total assessed value. As new construction is completed the tax rate will drop for everyone. A portion of the total tax will be paid by new construction.
Is district enrollment still growing?
District-wide enrollment has been flat the last 2 years. However, some schools are growing while others are not. According to the City of Bellevue, the city is expecting 40,000 new jobs and 16,000 new housing units by 2035. While enrollment has recently flattened, we expect to it to start growing again as the new housing units are built.
Why weren’t Interlake High School and Newport High School built with enough capacity when they were done the first time? Shouldn’t the district have anticipated the need for additional capacity?
Interlake High School (completed in 2005) and Newport High School (completed in 2007) were some of the initial projects. When these schools were being designed and constructed, District enrollment had been flat for over 20 years. At the time, the School Board was concerned with over-building.
District enrollment started growing in 2010 with the most significant growth being seen after 2014. This recent growth has significantly impacted both Newport and Interlake High Schools.
I don’t have children that attend any of the schools that will benefit from these bonds, what’s in it for me?
This is the next phase in an ongoing construction program that started 20 years ago. Many of our buildings have already been rebuilt and these efforts were supported by families districtwide and not just those immediately affected.
The individual schools to be either significantly remodeled or rebuilt include Jing Mei Elementary, Big Picture School, International School, Interlake High School and Newport High School. In addition, 19 schools will receive safety upgrades. Over half the districts’ students will attend high school at one of these schools. In addition, even if your students won’t attend any of these specific schools investing in our schools maintains and, in many cases, increases the overall value of our homes.
When was the last bond election and why now?
The last time we asked voters to approve a bond election was 2014. Since then, we have asked voters to renew local tax levies that fund education programs and technology. This bond election is for Phase IV of a construction program that begin in the early 2000’s. Phantom Lake Elementary school was the first rebuilt school which opened in fall 2003. The 2014 bond funds were used to build Bennett Elementary, Enatai Elementary, Wilburton Elementary, Clyde Hill Elementary, Stevenson Elementary, Puesta del Sol Elemenary, and Highland Middle School.
Doesn’t the state have capital funds for schools that we can use?
The state does have some capital construction funds for schools. However, the amount is not significant and must be shared across the state. Access to these funds is through a grant process based on demonstrated need.
Are there other funds that you are using to further improve facilities?
Bellevue tax payers also provide the district funds via a Capital and Technology property tax levy. This levy was last renewed by voters in 2018. This money is used for ongoing maintenance of buildings, technology needs, and other capital projects that are not as substantial as the projects to be funded by the bond.
Are there other safety improvement measures being considered by the District?
Our Security and Safety department finished a facility safety survey this past year. Capital and Technology funds are being used to implement recommendations across the district including increasing the use of proxy cards for building entrances and upgrading and installing cameras based on best practices.