Bainbridge Island School District's Capital Levy (Election February 12, 2019)
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
1. Why is BISD placing at $15 million levy on the February 2019 ballot?
A: BISD is experiencing a budget shortfall for its construction projects due to a combination of reason such as:
- Unprecedented escalation in our region’s construction industry
- Anticipated funding sources for construction projects that fell through
- Revised local and state building codes
The $15 million levy will allow BISD to finish its building commitments made in the 2016 bond and also provide funding for district-wide security upgrades and essential renovations through 2025.
2. What amount did voters approve in the 2016 bond measure?
A: In 2016, voters approved an $81.2 million bond measure that included $39 million towards replacing Blakely Elementary, $30 million towards replacing the Bainbridge High School 100 Building and $12.2 million towards district-wide repairs and essential renovations. At the time of the 2016 election, the district knew the construction projects were estimated to cost more than the amount that voters approved, but in order to keep the tax rate stable, the district identified $10.5 million in anticipated funds that would go towards the bond projects.
3. How were the costs estimated at the time of the election?
A: The district worked with a professional cost estimating firm, The Robinson Company, who considers many factors when projecting costs such as escalation (fuel, energy, supplies) current market conditions which includes materials, supplies and labor availability (which are difficult to predict far in advance), district construction standards, site conditions and recent and projected bond passage or requests.
4. I have heard that the construction boom currently happening in the Seattle-metropolitan area has affected the price for construction on Bainbridge. Can you explain this?
A: Competition for materials and skilled laborers continue to significantly impact construction costs. Overall market costs in the Seattle area are currently outpacing national trends. Articles in the Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce reported “disappointing” school bid results, with sub-contractor availability particularly challenging. The article continued to say, “General contractors and cost estimating firms continue to be surprised by the rate of cost increase in the past few months.”
Additionally, an article (May 29, 2018) in the Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce cited a new survey from Turner & Townsend which ranks Seattle as the seventh most expensive place to build in the world. This directly correlates to rising expenses for BISD, as the materials and skilled laborers needed for BISD projects come from the Seattle market.
5. Along with unprecedented escalation and market conditions, are there other factors that attribute to the shortfall?
A: Yes. Additional factors include:
- Conservative request to taxpayers in 2016 (to maintain tax stability)
- Lower fund balance due to prioritizing essential renovations
- Did not receive class size reduction grant ($1.2M)
- State Match eligibility for BHS project — OSPI Calculation was reduced to $1.750 million (In October 2015, the district was told it would receive $2.6 million)
- Competition in school construction market due to billions of bonds approved in the greater Seattle area
- New city and state code revisions
- Kitsap County Sales Tax Increase (0.03%)
Our current cost estimates project a $10.2 million shortfall, which will be covered by the $15 million levy. In addition, the levy provides funding for district-wide security upgrades and essential renovations through 2025.
6. Why doesn’t the district put the projects on hold and wait for the construction industry to slow down?
A: This would only provide a temporary solution and it comes with a cost.
- Given the current condition of the BHS 100 Building, the district would need to invest capital dollars into patching and repairing many areas, including roof replacement and infrastructure (fire, electrical, structural) improvements. This would only provide temporary solutions and the buildings would still need to eventually be replaced.
- Postponing new construction by repairing the old buildings does not improve educational spaces nor support 21st Century Learning. All students who graduate from BISD are required to take classes in the 100 Building. Having optimal learning spaces greatly impact the success of our students.
- Due to increases in population in the greater-Seattle area and aging school buildings, school districts have passed $5 billion in school bonds in recent years with billions more coming to voters over the next few years. It is unlikely that the market will soften anytime in the near future.
7. Why doesn’t the district scale-back the construction projects?
A: Throughout the entire design process the team has focused on opportunities for value engineering (cost reductions).
The district elected early in the Blakely replacement project to gain approval from the state to use an alternative construction delivery method called general contractor/construction management (GC/CM). This method allows the contractor to work alongside the district and architect to use cost-effective designs, materials and minimize site costs.
The district is committed to building 50+ year schools that have a high degree of energy efficiency and ease of maintenance. The district’s buildings are designed to meet 21st Century Learning environments while maximizing flexibility. As educational programs evolve, our buildings need to support change and provide the ability to address changes to the island’s population in the future.
8. If this is a regional issue, how are other school districts handling the escalating expenses?
A: Bellingham Public Schools was faced with a similar situation as BISD is and in February 2018, Bellingham Public Schools went to the voters requesting a $155 million bond. This bond request included money to complete projects from its earlier 2013 bond request. More than seventy percent of Bellingham voters approved the 2018 request.
9. What are the tax implications of the proposed levy?
A: If approved, the six-year levy would cost Bainbridge Island homeowners $0.30 per thousand assessed value, or about $198 per year for the average Bainbridge Island Home (average assessed value is estimated to be $660,520). The levy would be collected through 2025.
10. Did you gauge the public’s opinion on this proposed levy? What did you learn?
A: Yes. We used the services of CFM Communications who are experts in creating and executing surveys and are used by many school districts in our region. CFM Communications implemented telephone and online surveys to Bainbridge Island residents.
The results of the surveys found strong, widespread support for a $15 million levy. Nearly seven out of ten favored the levy — well above the 50% threshold need to approve the measure.
11. What is the current status of the construction projects?
A: Ground broke for the new Blakely Elementary school last fall and the new building is scheduled to open in the fall of 2019. At the October 25, 2018 School Board Meeting, the board approved the schematic design for the replacement of the 100 Building. The goal is to open the new 100 Building in December 2020
12. Has the plan for the BHS 100 Building changed from the initial 2016 planning?
A: Yes. The design for the BHS 100 Building involves moving the commons space from its current location at the lower end of the BHS 200 Building, to the new 100 Building. This change situates the commons at the “heart” of the BHS Campus and allows the space to be utilized throughout the day and also provides better administrative supervision of the space. The current commons will be renovated into an auditorium with seating for 350-400 people. The space offers an ideal environment for transformation, as the original design intent provides visual access and supports all elements of performance activities.
Questions? Please contact Erin Bischoff, Public Relations Officer, at 206-780-1081 or email email@example.com