The Pasco City Council was urged Monday to support the Pasco School District's bond proposal.
Members of Pasco Citizens for Better Schools encouraged the council to advocate for the upcoming ballot measure Monday.
The district has struggled to keep up with student population growth, which has increased by an average of 700 students per year over the past decade.
The district had almost 15,000 students at the beginning of the school year, and expects to reach almost 21,000 students in 2016.
"Pasco's growth rate has been blisteringly hot for a long time," said Pasco Mayor Matt Watkins.
The bond would pay local costs for a new elementary school, middle school and early learning center in west Pasco. The elementary school would be built first, completed in 2012 if the bond passes in April, said Mike Miller, co-chairman of Pasco Citizens for Better Schools.
"They are beyond desperately needed," said Jean Ryckman of Pasco.
The district expects to receive $50 million from the state in matching dollars to the $59 million bond, Ryckman said.
Pasco is first on the state's list for matching funds, she said. The dollars are there now, but with state budget woes, state money may not be available next year.
That, and the need for the schools, is part of the reason that the bond must be passed this year, Ryckman said.
The measure needs supermajority support to pass. It would cost homeowners95 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, or $95 for a $100,000 home.
The three schools won't solve all of the district's space needs, Ryckman said. That's why a citizens group is looking at other options, such as multi-track, year-round school.
And the bond wouldn't remove the district's need for school impact fees, Watkins said.
The school district also asked Pasco and Franklin County to consider requiring impact fees on new construction in the district that could help pay for temporary facilities needed to accommodate new students until new schools can be built.
Ballots for the April 26 special election likely will be mailed next week, which means the council needs to decide on Monday if it will take a formal position, Pasco City Manager Gary Crutchfield said.
The council will hold a public hearing next Monday on whether it should support the district's bond proposal.
Also Monday, the council discussed hiring a consultant company to evaluate traffic on Road 68, safety of the corridor and possible improvements.
Ahmad Qayoumi, city public works director, said Kittelson & Associates of Portland also would look at possible traffic conditions on the road 20 years from now and projects that could accommodate that growth.
The proposed agreement would cost no more than $49,000, and would pay for a study of Road 68 between Argent and Sandifur roads.
w Kristi Pihl: 582-1512; email@example.com