School Bond Pros and Cons

The Everett School District (SD) had a $317M school bond on the August 4th, 2020 ballot. The measure failed to receive the 60% approval threshold. This website focused on the pros and cons. Quotes and links were provided to the Everett SD’s vast assemblage of school bond information on its website. At the same time, a rigorous effort was made here by the author to provide con arguments. The author encouraged voters to review the different arguments, review the data links, review the voters’ pamphlet, ask questions, and to then make an informed decision.

An idea for adamant supporters of the bond. Calculate what you would have paid in taxes for this one bond and gift it directly to the school district. See the formula.

A spreadsheet has been created by the author to assist the public and current and future school board members to better understand:
the possibility of using Capital Levies instead of Capital Bonds,
how school taxes (local and state) have risen sharply over the last few years and are expected (by design) to continue to rapidly increase in the years ahead,
how the district is planning to pile up bond debt for future generations if left unabated.
Spreadsheet

Pro 1

Ensuring students have enough room to learn by adding 21st Century classroom space, modernizing and repairing building systems
“Adds new elementary school classrooms throughout the district to reduce overcrowding, keep class sizes low and keep more kids at their neighborhood schools.
Repairs aging school systems in our schools like HVAC, roofing and flooring replacements, that extends the longevity of schools.”
https://www.everettsd.org/Page/30400

Con 1

No additional schools are included in this bond
The same total student enrollment will result at each school. The same crowded cafeterias will result where (from parent reports) kids today don’t even have time to wash their hands during their limited, rushed lunchtime. The same traffic jams will remain at each school’s parking and drop off area.

While there are some worthy maintenance items in the proposed bond, the bond is simply too much at once and needs to be scaled down to the most pressing items. Taxpayers are still in shock after the recent McCleary Decision which pumped billions into the K-12 school system from our state school property taxes.

And then there is the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis that the community has been struggling with since February. While most families, private businesses, and city governments are reducing expenditures, the Everett SD just awarded salary raises (3-5%) for its administrators effective July 1st, 2020!

The Everett SD needs to start making better decisions, start being frugal, and needs to stop overspending at every opportunity.


Pro 2

Increasing safety and security for students and schools
“Secure locks and keying systems will be added district wide.
Access control systems at two high schools
Upgrades to fire alarm systems, security systems and fencing”
https://www.everettsd.org/Page/30400

Con 2

Priorities
We are all for student and staff safety and for replacing 70 year old dilapidated school buildings if they truly can’t be refurbished. Which is why these stated safety improvements should have been discussed and completed BEFORE the administration building was built. After Tambark Creek ES, the administration building is the 2nd newest building in the district when it should be the oldest.

The administration building, which opened in Oct 2013, cost $28M:
$7M from rent and miscellaneous funds.
$21M from SCAP (School Construction Assistance Program) Funds.

State SCAP funds are intended for schools to directly serve students. Districtwide admin facilities are NOT eligible for funding through the SCAP program. The district’s administration building was also not on any ballot for voters to vote on.

The administration building was a mistake. But it can be corrected. Another Everett SD community committee should be assembled to investigate the conversion of it into an elementary, middle, or high school. It could be a public STEM magnet school and/or a public charter school.

That action will add a modern, new building to our pool of schools putting students first. It will help alleviate crowding. It will put hard earned taxpayer dollars into proper, high priority uses.

The committee will also find a sturdy, low cost structure (perhaps a leased building or a combination of portable classrooms/offices) for the district’s administrators. Another option is district administrators and school board members can continue to work remotely permanently from their home offices (the new normal) and not take up space.


Pro 3

Giving our students facilities and tools necessary for STEM career pathways
“The bond funds modernization and upgrades to high school classrooms to support the Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM) career pathway programs and new science standards.”
https://www.everettsd.org/Page/30400

Con 3

Sno-Isle Tech
The 3 specialized pathways (Medical and Health Careers at Everett HS, Aerospace & Advanced Manufacturing at Cascade HS, Information Technology at Jackson HS) in the proposed bond are already provided by Sno-Isle Tech. There are already transportation options for students at all of our high schools to attend Sno-Isle Tech in the AM or PM. Sno-Isle Tech serves 14 school districts including Everett. A great resource where students also make friendships with students in other school districts. Sno-Isle Tech has Aerospace Manufacturing, Precision Machining, Health Sciences, Information Technology and many other programs. It is located right next to the Boeing plant and the Future of Flight Museum. Everett SD students have been participating in Sno-Isle Tech for many years and still do today. The district should do a much better job at promoting and supporting Sno-Isle Tech and its students. New bond moneys from hardworking taxpayers should NOT be used to duplicate existing, highly regarded programs.


Pro 4

Providing equitable access and opportunities for students
“By funding capital projects at all schools throughout our district, while reducing the overall school district tax rate.”


https://www.everettsd.org/Page/30400
https://www.everettsd.org/Page/31040

Note: The graphic above was recreated by the author to provide a higher resolution, more legible version than the district’s version.

Con 4

Tone-deaf to taxpayers
Focusing only on the tax “rate” is disingenuous at best. It fails to acknowledge how assessed property values (homes, apartments, businesses) have increased and how the actual taxes taxpayers pay every year have dramatically increased.

Everett’s misleading “rates” chart only goes through 2024. This proposed 2020 bond will require taxpayer payments through 2042.

While Everett designed a small dip in overall local school taxes for the initial year 2021, taxpayers will pay higher taxes in 2022 and beyond – continuing to far outpace inflation that is forcing people to sell and leave their homes.

Local taxpayers are also paying state school taxes that have dramatically increased. Everett SD representatives rarely if ever mention that in their discussions on finances with the public.

Returning to tax rates as insufficient and misleading as they are. The Mukilteo SD compared their tax rates to Everett and other neighboring school districts in their marketing materials for their 2020 bond. Mukilteo used 2019 rates in their materials. The following chart shows the same districts but with rates for 2020.

The Edmonds SD also used Everett as a comparison example but with a slightly different set of neighboring school districts in their marketing materials for their 2020 bond. The following chart shows the districts that Edmonds used but for 2020 rates.

Everett’s habit of starting 20+ year bonds every 4 to 6 years adds approximately 33% on top of the face value of its school bonds. For example, the 2016 bond that was advertised as $149.7M is actually costing taxpayers over $200M with the additional $53M in bond interest and fees. This proposed 2020 bond is slated to require an additional $100M in interest + fees on top of the advertised $317.4M

Everett has other bonds already in their plans for 2026, 2030, 2034, and 2040. All are expected to be 20+ year bonds (each) with the usual 33% overhead in interest and fees that taxpayers must pay.

Everett should do away with bonds entirely to save taxpayers millions of dollars in interest and fees. Instead, Everett should use Capital Levies. Two consecutive 6 year Capital Levies may be required for some projects. After of course having an appropriate review committee eliminate wasteful items from its wish list of projects.


Pro 5

Provide capacity for expected continued growth
We’re growing!
An additional 1500 students are expected by 2030. We need to continue to address the capacity issue.
Source: Notes from the bond information meeting on 2/13/20


Con 5

Unplanned growth and higher traffic congestion
We are not growing. There are however local pockets of high density housing springing up quickly that have not been planned well – at all. Not only are these causing strain on our schools, they are causing ever increasing traffic gridlock. This is increasing commute time to Bellevue and Seattle where the jobs are. Jobs have not been increasing in the local area. In fact the city of Everett has been struggling with its budget. Developers are not paying their fair share. Developers are being subsidized by overly stretched taxpayers.
Another Everett SD community committee should be created to honestly analyze the situation and report back to the community, to the school district, and to local and state-wide legislators.


Pro 6

Recommended actions
For voters:
1) Review the district provided information on its website
2) Attend one or more of the 4 district led bond information meetings
3) And then vote!

Con 6

Recommended actions
For voters:
1) Review the district provided information on its website
2) Attend one or more of the 4 district led bond information meetings
3) In addition – review the Con arguments and data
4) And then vote!

For the district:
1) Postpone the August 4th, 2020 bond measure until at least November 2021 so that parents, families, and taxpayers can deal with the COVID-19 crisis and the resulting economic crisis.
2) Start discussing the full picture of property taxes, not just tax “rates.” Fully disclose actual, total projected tax payments each year of the bond for a median priced home and an example apartment and fully disclose the number of years until the bond’s maturity. See the example charts below.
3) Start listening to overly stretched taxpayers – many of whom are considering moving because of spiraling high property taxes.
4) Start being frugal in all areas: General Fund for operations; Debt Service and Capital Projects Funds for levies, bonds.
5) Bring down Everett’s local school tax rates to be more inline with surrounding school districts such as Monroe and Mukilteo.
6) Put in writing that no administration building will ever be built again without voter approval.
7) Start an Everett SD community committee to investigate converting the 6 year old, modern administration building into an elementary, middle, or high school.
8) Put in writing that all bond overestimates will be returned to taxpayers.
9) Start an Everett SD community committee to address the out of control, poorly planned, high density housing developments that are straining infrastructure.
10) Move all future school bond and levy elections to November to be in sync with state and national elections.
11) Significantly improve the promotion and support of Sno-Isle Tech and its students.
12) Stop using the collection of bond taxes (for each bond’s 20 year payback period) in a weird payback schedule (see the chart below) to try to give the appearance of an overall local school flat tax. Just use a constant payment schedule similar to what homeowners are used to in their mortgage and what car owners are used to in their car loan amortization schedule. This action will go a long way in being honest with taxpayers by clearly showing the true costs of bonds and levies.
13) Stop using bonds entirely to save taxpayers money. Instead, Everett should use Capital Levies for buildings. Two consecutive 6 year Capital Levies may be required for some projects. For a spreadsheet to run scenarios, click here.
14) Stop blocking and start allowing pro and con arguments to be included with all bond and levy ballots. Which was why this website was created.


Pro
Supporting tables and charts
1)The Everett SD’s bond project list.
https://www.everettsd.org/Page/30430
2) The Everett SD’s bond project list by school.
https://www.everettsd.org/Page/30433
3) The Everett SD’s chart on tax rates.
https://www.everettsd.org/Page/31040
4) The Everett SD’s capital bond proposal presentation to the school board.
Contains charts and tables on future bonds and levies,
actual enrollment from 1951-2018,
and enrollment projections out to 2028.
https://www.everettsd.org/Page/30500

Con
Supporting tables and charts
1) Table showing bond items in descending order by amount.

2) Local school tax rate comparison


Pro
Pertinent links
Everett SD Capital Projects Information
https://www.everettsd.org/Page/30400
Everett SD Contact For Questions
https://www.everettsd.org/Page/28844
Everett SD Bond FAQ Page
https://www.everettsd.org/Page/35909

Con
Pertinent links
A volunteer created website listing pros and cons regarding the April (now rescheduled for August) 2020 Everett SD School Bond
www.SchoolBondProsCons.com

Sno-Isle Tech
www.snoisletech.com/

OSPI’s SCAP (School Construction Assistance Program) Fund Information
https://www.k12.wa.us/policy-funding/school-buildings-facilities/school-construction-assistance-program-scap

Future Bond Levy Details For a $300K AV Home
Based on the Everett SD’s historical and projected bond and levy datasheet
https://schoolbondproscons.com/future-bonds-levies-details-for-a-300k-av-home/

Future Bond Levy Details For a $400K AV Home
Based on the Everett SD’s historical and projected bond and levy datasheet
https://schoolbondproscons.com/future-bonds-levies-details-for-a-400k-av-home/

Future Bond Levy Details For a $500K AV Home
Based on the Everett SD’s historical and projected bond and levy datasheet
https://schoolbondproscons.com/future-bond-levy-details-for-a-500k-av-home/

Future Bond Levy Details For a $600K AV Home
Based on the Everett SD’s historical and projected bond and levy datasheet
https://schoolbondproscons.com/future-bond-levy-details-for-a-600k-av-home/

Future Bond Levy Details For a $700K AV Home
Based on the Everett SD’s historical and projected bond and levy datasheet
https://schoolbondproscons.com/future-bond-levy-details-for-a-700k-av-home/

Future Bond Levy Details For a $800K AV Home
Based on the Everett SD’s historical and projected bond and levy datasheet
https://schoolbondproscons.com/future-bond-levy-details-for-a-800k-av-home/

Future Bond Levy Details For a $222K AV Apartment
Based on the Everett SD’s historical and projected bond and levy datasheet
https://schoolbondproscons.com/future-bond-levy-details-for-a-222k-av-apartment/

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