The Mercer Island School Board unanimously approved a $98.8 million bond Thursday evening. The bond is scheduled for a February 11 election by Mercer Island voters.
“This bond will provide three solutions to help manage overcrowding in our classrooms at each level,” said Board President Janet Frohnmayer. “The focus and scale of these projects addresses current student needs as well as concerns from people we spoke with at our numerous community outreach events and discussions.”
Last year, Mercer Island residents rejected a $196 million proposal to rebuild all of the school district's K-8 schools, 59-41. Nearly 60 percent of registered voters took part in the election. An approval of 60 percent of the vote is required to authorize school construction bonds in Washington state.
The Mercer Island School District says additional classrooms and buildings would alleviate overcrowding due to growing enrollment levels not seen since 2001, and enrollment numbers are projected by the MISD to climb several hundred students more by the end of the decade.
- Building a new elementary school at the North Mercer campus.
- Expanding Islander Middle School with 14 new classrooms and lab spaces, commons and cafeteria, gymnasium, music rooms, and administrative space.
- Building 10 additional classrooms
at Mercer Island High School, including 4 science labs and 6 general education
The value of the bond is actually $102.6 million, but the state of Washington will provide $3.8 million in matching funds under the Credit Enhancement Act, meaning the obligation to Mercer Island residents goes down to $98.8 million.
The Mercer Island School District currently has more than 4,120 full-time equivalent students in the district’s three elementary schools, middle school, high school and alternative program — about 30 more than were budgeted for in August. The district currently uses 34 portable classrooms to help accommodate the current number of students.
According to enrollment numbers submitted to the state, the MISD reported 4,291 students attending school this month. The last time that many students attended public school on Mercer Island was the 2000-2001 school year, when the monthly headcount peaked at 4,306 in December 2000. Prior to that, records show 4,598 students enrolled in 1979 before levels fell dramatically in the 1980s and the MISD closed down two schools and sold off vacant land.
During the public discussion about
the bond package, the district emphasized bringing in opponents of the last
package to ensure receiving their input and support before putting the bond to
Mercer Island voters.
The election will be an all-mail special election, meaning voters will receive their ballots sometime between late-January and early-February.