School bond failure feels like deja vu


The Mirror

Failing school bonds in Federal Way is nothing new.

Anyone who has lived in the community a long time recalls the days in the 1970s and early 1980s when bonds died like fruit flies. Even the last capital bond the school district presented didn’t pass the first time around.

Jim Storvick was on the School Board in the late 1990s when a proposal was made to build a middle school, redo Truman High School and build a non-comprehensive school.

The last item drew the ire of educators in the district when the board and Federal Way Public Schools’ administration took the proposal around town, Storvick said.

A few months before voters were to go to the polls, the board revamped the proposal without the comprehensive school and with a high school.

While educators supported the revised bond, Storvick blamed the failure on the short amount of time he said supporters had to get the word out in the community. The bond was brought back a few months later and passed, however. Today, Todd Beamer High School, Sequoyah Middle School and Truman are all results of that bond money.

But in the case of the $245 million construction bond that lost in last month’s election, the failure and circumstances are different, Storvick noted.

Meanwhile, other districts in King County were passing capital bonds last month –– and some for more money.

Lake Washington School District, with nearly 23,500 students, passed a $436 million capital bond with 64.7 percent of voters approving the request. The district will modernize a high school, two middle schools and seven elementary schools. The district would also build a new elementary school and make other capital improvements, according to officials there.

Kent School District passed a $106 million capital bond with 65.7 percent approval to build two elementary schools, renovate a middle school, alter an existing building for an alternative high school and “construct major modernization capital improvements to other schools,” officials said.

Issaquah School District passed a $241.8 million construction bond, with 67.8 percent voting yes. The bond will pay for a new middle school, rebuilding Issaquah High School and the district’s 15th elementary school. The bond also paid for a new performing arts center.

The latter, proposed to be at a rebuilt Federal Way High School, is a component of the Federal Way bond that has been cited by some foes as a reason why they voted against the overall proposal. They say it’s more than they’re willing to absorb additional property tax that would be assessed through the bond.

On the opposite side, supporters of the bond –– and of a performing arts center in particular –– have contended that such a facility should be an integral part of education for music and drama students and would be an asset to the community and arts organizations.

The School Board hosted a meeting last night to hear from citizens on what they like and don’t like about the bond. The feedback will help the board and district officials decide what to do next with the bond, including whether to revise the measure for a second go-round with voters.

Staff writer Mike Halliday: 925-5565,

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