Pasco voters may have a $104 million choice to make in November.
The school board received the first draft of the district’s latest bond proposal during a meeting with the Community Builders group Tuesday afternoon.
The Pasco School District is looking at putting another bond in front of voters after a $69.5 million proposal fell 3 percent short of the 60 percent it needed during the February election.
To get it on November’s ballot, the board needs to approve a resolution before the end of July.
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The district’s population expanded from 12,306 students in 2007 to 17,362 in 2016, MGT Consulting Group said. The consultants were developing a long-term plan for the district’s facilities when the bond failed.
Most of the growth has been in the kindergarten through sixth grade, where the population expanded from 7,056 students to 10,087.
The consultants are predicting the explosive growth of the past 10 years will become steady growth during the next decade, with the district adding roughly 3,500 more pupils by 2027, most in the elementary schools that are presently at or over capacity.
After the failure of February’s bond, the district turned to MGT Consulting Group to help plan the next one.
The consultants organized the Community Builders group, held a set of community meetings, and polled the public about their concerns.
Joe Clark with MGT said the community is concerned about the overcrowding.
The group wants the district to focus on building the two elementary schools included in February’s measure, as well as rebuilding Stevens Middle School. An additional middle school was added as well.
The plan is tied to moving sixth-grade students out of the elementary schools and back into the middle schools. The school board decided to move sixth-graders after the February 2011 bond failed.
While it’s not immediately clear how much space it would add back, MGT predicts moving the students would ease more than half of the overcrowding at the elementaries.
The proposal won’t completely solve the district’s overcrowding issues, but Randy Nunamaker, the district’s executive director of operations, said it will be a positive first step toward fixing the issue.
Initial estimates predict the district would need to pass a $104 million bond to make the proposal a reality.
Trevor Carlson with investment bank and asset management firm Piper Jaffray projected the bond would cost property owners roughly 69 cents more per $1,000 of assessed value, meaning a $138 per year property tax hike for a $200,000 home.
Several members of the group expressed concerns about the amount of time and information they had to form an opinion.
Nathan Grimm said they only started analyzing the data before being presented some general options, and he didn’t feel like it was a proposal from the community builders group.
Other members disagreed. Marsha Stillwell said the process wasn’t rushed, even if it was completed quickly.
Board members were divided about the proposal, with some looking for a series of other smaller construction projects that were included in the last bond to be on this one. The projects included adding security vestibules at elementary schools, fixing roofs and building a new bus barn.
Steve Christensen wanted more information before he could make a decision, including how it would impact boundaries and overcrowding.
The school board is expected to discuss the proposal during its June meetings.