On the ballot: Spokane Public Schools’ $495 million bond, explained

On the ballot: Spokane Public Schools’ $495 million bond, explained

The countdown is on: Election Day is just weeks away and there’s a lot at stake for Spokane Public Schools. The district will partner with the City of Spokane and the Spokane Public Library to ask voters to weigh in on three ballot measures.

When you get your ballot, you’ll find Spokane Public Schools Bond Proposition 1. It calls for $495.3 million in improvements and additions to the district. If approved, three brand new middle schools will be built in the northwest, northeast and south sides of town, on city-owned property.

If Prop 1 passes, Glover, Sacajawea and Shaw Middle Schools will be torn down and rebuilt.

“They’ve just lived their life span,” said district spokesman Brian Coddington. “They’re built in the late 50’s, so it’s time for those to get upgrades.”

The state will match $57.9 million for the replacement schools. The addition and improvement of schools will result in smaller class sizes, as sixth graders leave the elementary level to join seventh and eighth graders at middle school.

“There’s two significant transitions in a child’s life as they progress through school. One from elementary school to middle school, one from middle school to high school,” Coddington said. “So spreading that transition time out over three years allows for more time in a school, better engagement in culture and really a better sense of belonging for those students.”

If voters give it the go-ahead, Prop 1 would also fund new space for option programs at the Libby Center and On Track Academy, add a cafeteria and commons area at Lewis & Clark High School, improve other schools across the district, upgrade safety and technology for all schools and help pay to modernize or replace Joe Albi Stadium.

“People build community and build neighborhoods around schools,” Coddington said. “It’s the number one reason people choose to live where they live, so continuing to have a robust public education system is important for, both for student education but also for the development of the community and really those neighborhoods.”

So what will it all cost you? For the average homeowner, the school and library bonds will cost $16 a month. But the district says your taxes will go down about $20 a month next year, since the state will be paying more toward basic education as a result of the McCleary decision. Coddington told KXLY4 even if the bond is approved, your taxes will be lower next year.

“It’s a very unique situation – unique to Spokane, something we probably won’t see happen again,” Coddington said.

The new schools would be built over a six-year period. The district says construction on those projects will generate at least 2,000 jobs a year.

If you have any questions on the bond package between the schools. libraries and the city, drop a comment below.