Lake Washington School District voters will decide in the April 23 special election whether to approve a $120 million levy that the Eastside district says it needs to address rapid growth in enrollment.
The proposed capital projects levy would pay for new classrooms at five schools, expanding common areas and gym space at Lake Washington High School, adding exterior cameras at all elementary schools and remodeling entryways for greater security.
If approved, the measure would generate $20 million per year for six years, with a levy rate between 25 to 29 cents per $1,000 of assessed land value.
Supporters emphasize that the district has nearly 30,000 students, a 26 percent increase from the student population a decade ago. About 2,000 more students are expected by 2022. Forty-nine of its 54 schools are at or over capacity, and the district has had to add 169 portables to those schools. The construction projects would add space for 1,052 students.
The district has been one of the fastest-growing in the state, Superintendent Jane Stavem said. She called the growth a good problem to have, but one that brings challenges in short- and long-term planning.
“We know there’s more to be done,” she said.
More than a dozen state lawmakers and city and county leaders have endorsed the measure. The Lake Washington Citizens Levy Committee has raised $5,200 this year, according to the Public Disclosure Commission.
Opponents of the levy say the district hasn’t done enough to address the projected enrollment increase and the planned projects list is flawed. Susan Wilkins, chair of the Unfair School Taxes Committee, described the district’s process as reactionary and said they caused the capacity issues in the first place.
“Quite honestly, I think they’re not good at planning,” said Wilkins, whose four children graduated from Lake Washington schools. “That’s why I oppose it.”
King County Elections sent ballots to voters last week. No stamp is needed to return a ballot by mail. Also, the county’s ballot drop boxes opened Thursday.