Survey Results Point to Community Support for Schools – and Comprehensive Bond

EMC Research presented the Snoqualmie Valley School District the results of a recent district-wide, random sample phone survey designed to gather feedback on the community’s support for a future school bond.

Among multiple school-related questions, two bond options were provided to survey respondents: 1) a $225 million bond that would rebuild, expand and modernize Mount Si High School to hold grades 9-12, re-open Snoqualmie Middle School, build a new elementary school on Snoqualmie Ridge and do needed upgrades and maintenance at all other SVSD buildings; or 2) a $130 million bond that would build a new middle and elementary school (both) on Snoqualmie Ridge and do needed upgrades and maintenance at all other SVSD buildings (but defer Mount Si High School expansion/modernization work).

Option 1 (also referred to as Option A by the district) received support from 67% of respondents. When the tax implication for the average Snoqualmie Valley home was revealed, the respondent support level was 57%. Option 2 also received that same 57% support when its tax implication was included. With a margin of error of 4.9%, both options are right on the cusp of the passing supermajority level of 60%.

For over a year, the school board has been researching and vetting Option A as a longterm facilities solution to address capacity and educational needs at all grade levels. Based on survey results, all components of option A received strong respondent support (over 64%), except for the preschool component of the new elementary school.

School Board President Geoff Doy said he was “delighted to see the community in support of schools” and believes the survey provides the district a “detailed set of information to move forward with.”

As for what’s next, Doy said Superintendent Aune and his administrative team will put together a high level plan of critical timelines for the next bond.  That plan will detail out when a bond needs to be placed on the ballot to ensure a 6th elementary school and 3rd middle school open in time to meet capacity demands, as well as construction phase timelines for a high school rebuild.

Before any bond can be placed on the ballot, the school board needs to pass a resolution regarding the bond:  its components, final price tag and estimated tax impact to homeowners.

Doy thought the next school board meeting on June 26th would offer a better idea regarding that potential resolution. He also hoped the key questions of 1) what will be on the bond and 2) when will it be on the ballot would be agreed on by the end of the summer.

In the past, the board had discussed a November 2014 or a February 2015 bond date in order to meet projected capacity needs. Doy thought a November bond could be a “challenging timeframe” when accounting for the upcoming summer break.

He thought a February bond could provide more time to mount strong support for a major bond initiative and allow “Snoqualmie Valley teachers and administrative staff time to fully develop the educational requirements and specifications for any proposed development.”

When asked how he feels about a future bond that may produce dramatic changes to Mount Si High School, Principal John Belcher said, “I am in favor of what our board, my staff and this community want to see done with this building.”

mshsfront

School bond option A includes a rebuild and expansion of Mount Si High School, which was originally designed and constructed in the early 1950’s and added onto over the years.

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Stephen Kangas says

    During the presentation of the survey results in this school board meeting, the VP of EMC Research (contractor who performed the survey) pointed out that it is very important for SVSD to develop support from all of the key voter groups identified in the survey in order for a comprehensive bond to gain the 60% super-majority needed to pass election. These groups included the 50+ aged voter population. Because we all know from past statistical history that voter turn-out is comparatively low for NON-November elections AND that there is a much higher percentage of 50+ voters during such non-Nov elections (they are more faithful consistent voters), AND that the survey showed significantly lower support among the 50+ voters surveyed for this particular bond proposal, it is logically unlikely that a comprehensive $225M bgond will be approved if placed on the Feb 2015 ballot…ie, high risk of wasting money balloting it that could otherwise be used to keep (or hire) a teacher here (ie, the growing SVSD class size problem). November 2015 should be the earliest target date SVSD should be considering at this point, as it (1) taps into the more favorable voters who actually turn out for voting and (2) allows for the time needed to educate the other key voting groups that the survey shows are less inclined to pass such a bond based on what little they know today. I’m very nervous about what appears to be a continuing attitude of rushing bond proposals to ballot via half-baked promotional campaigns that ignore addressing the concerns of key voting groups who have failed bonds in the past. We need to see a “win” from voters to prove it’s possible for today’s voters to pass bonds, not yet another failure by slim margins. Let’s encourage the school board to do the job right this time.

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