Bainbridge school district gathering opinions on new $15 million bond

The Bainbridge Island School District is surveying islanders to see if there is public support for a $15 million bond measure to cover the funding gap for the new Blakely Elementary School project and other projects approved by voters two years ago.

According to district officials, the school district is $10 million short of the money it needs to complete the new Blakely school and the replacement for the 100 Building at Bainbridge High School, a project that originally included a new theater.

The Bainbridge school board has been considering a $15 million bond measure for the February 2019 ballot that would help cover the costs of the capital projects that were originally financed through a $81.2 million bond measure that was approved by voters in 2016.

Officials said they had earlier thought enough funding would be available to cover the cost of the projects in 2016 bond, but grants and other revenues to pay for the total price tag of $91.2 million in improvements have not come through as planned.

A number of other factors are also to blame for the higher costs, officials said, including the construction boom in Puget Sound that has driven up costs over the past three years, as well as rising sales taxes and new code requirements from the city of Bainbridge Island.

Without enough funds to complete the projects, the district launched a telephone survey of random islanders this month to see if support exists for a February 2019 bond measure.

The bond would be set at $15 million, with $10 million going to cover the added costs of projects already planned, and another $5 million for upgraded security measures across the school district, as well as upgrades to mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems.

The telephone survey is being conducted by CFM Strategic Communications.

District officials also plan to start an online survey later this month.

Survey results may help guide the school board’s next steps.

The district has formed a Superintendent’s Advisory Workgroup to review the results when the surveys are finished, and the group will offer a recommendation to the school board on the potential bond measure in September.

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