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City Council supports school bond measure
The bond, which will be on the November general election ballot with a price tag of $195 million, calls for the construction of a new Tahoma High School and other projects associated with realigning other schools in the district like renovating Lake Wilderness Elementary School and converting classrooms to make them grade level appropriate, as well as projects to make all the district’s schools warm, safe, and dry for students.
The new high school is the centerpiece of the project and could also double as a regional learning center, a place where classes for community members could be held in the evenings.
District officials predict that the construction and realignment projects would solve the district’s overcrowding problems and would allow the district to eliminate all portable classrooms.
Before voting, the council held a public hearing where community members could voice their support or opposition to the bond. Among those who spoke to council were members of district leadership, community leaders, parents, and local business owners.
“We’re excited about the opportunity to collaborate with you,” Superintendent Mike Maryanski told the council.
Maryanski went on to explain that the district hopes to partner with the city on the regional learning center idea and on developing fields to accompany the school that could be used by the greater community.
Tim Adam, president of the Tahoma School Board of Directors, also spoke and encouraged community members to ask questions and be informed voters and pointed out that the school district is a major reason people move to the community and the community needs to continue to support the schools.
“I can say without reservation that we have world class teachers…we don’t have world class facilities,” Adam said. “Our property values are hinging on how well our school district does.”
Greater Maple Valley-Black Diamond Chamber of Commerce President Jim Flynn, compared investing in the wider community, including schools, to investing in a good foundation and good structure when building in the construction industry: if the foundation and the walls are strong then the rest of the building can be strong as well.
“We have to invest in the community foundation and community structure,” Flynn said.
He also read a statement from the Chamber, stating members’ support of the bond measure.
The projected tax increase for the bond is $1.47 per $1,000 assessed value over the 2013 tax rate. That would pencil out to an approximate increase of $36.75 per month for the owner of a $300,000 home or $441 per year.
The proposed high school site is 35 acres in what is known as the Donut Hole, 156 acres of county-owned property located off Southeast Kent-Kangley Road and 228th Street Southeast, which the district is in the process of purchasing from King County. School officials say they hope the purchase will be complete by the end of the year.
Upon unanimously endorsing the bill council members received a standing ovation from members of the standing-room only crowd at the meeting.
“This needs to get done for our community,” Mayor Bill Allison said. “This needs to get done for our kids.”