Voters in the Maple Valley Public Schools District will vote Tuesday, May 6 whether or not to approve an $18 million bond proposal. The bond proposal represents a tax increase of 4.1 mills.
Members of Citizens for Maple Valley’s Future, a committee created by local residents, outlined the bond proposal Tuesday, April 29 during its last community meeting before the May 6 election. Committee co-chair Darren McDonald emphasized throughout the two-hour meeting that the proposal was created and is being driven by a committee of concerned citizens, not by school administration.
“Over the years there has been a trust issue between some community members and the school board and administration combined,” McDonald said. “Having this bond come from the community shows we are being open and transparent. I think people will put more trust in it knowing it’s coming from the community.”
A group of community members — 25 to 30 McDonald estimates — has been working on this process for more than a year. They came together after recognizing the need to improve the district’s aging facilities.
“We recognized the needs have been there for a while,” McDonald said. “In talking to community members it’s apparent we want to take care of needs not staff or administrators wants.”
Committee member Jason Hoefler said the bond represents only needs of the district.
“We went through thousands of needs, not wants, throughout this process,” Hoefler said during the Tuesday meeting. “We prioritized everything.”
The plan they came up with in working with Maple Valley Public Schools administration and construction consultants addresses four main areas — safety, warm, dry and smart. Thirty nine percent of the $18 million would be utilized to enhance student saefty, including secure entries at each building, improved exterior and emergency lighting, security cameras and properly locking doors. Another 24 percent of the bond would be used to replace the boilers at Fuller Street Elementary and add energy-efficient doors and windows throughout the district. Twenty percent of the bond would replace leaking roofs and pipes in the district. The final 17 percent of the bond would upgrade and expand the district’s technology, including adding classroom computers, expanding the district’s wireless technology infrastructure and add a science lab at the high school.
Passing the bond would also mean the district could reopen Maplewood School to hold first through sixth grade. Fuller Street School would be utilized for Pre-K and kindergarten students. Additional class space would open up at Maple Valley Jr./Sr. High School if housing seventh through 12 grades.
Superintendent Michelle Falcon said a bond steering committee would be formed if the proposal is approved. The committee would include members of Citizens for Maple Valley’s Future.
“That will help build trust,” McDonald said. “We will make sure we follow through with what the community was promised.”
Several community members expressed concern over the number of mills that would be levied if the proposal were to pass. A few suggested asking the community to approve fewer mills over a shorter period of time. McDonald said the district has a great opportunity to take advantage of the State’s School Loan Revolving Fund, which will not be available after this year. The SLRF requires a minimum of 7 mills levied by a district in order to receive funding. Adding 4.1 mills through the May 6 election would put Maple Valley Public Schools at exactly 7 mills.
“The program will allow us to generate more funds over a longer period,” McDonald said. “The 4.1 mills today gets us $18 million. If it doesn’t pass this year and we were to go after the same mills next year, it would give us just over $12 million, which will not get us the same fix. Right now is the best time to get the best benefit.”
Falcon said she is preparing an instructional plan for two scenarios — a community yes vote or a community no vote.
“Whether or not it passes, school must go on,” Falcon said. “The plan will allow the community to see what opportunities could happen for our students.”