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November 12, 2014

KSD will put school bond on February ballot

The Kennewick School District Board of Directors has adopted a resolution to hold a special election on February 10, 2015 to let voters decide on a $89,500,000 bond to construct two new middle schools, three new elementary schools, and make other district-wide health, safety, educational, and infrastructure improvements.

If the bond passes, it would authorize the district to complete the following projects:
• Replace Desert Hills Middle School with a new school on a site adjacent to Clodfelter Road. Estimated (Opens fall 2016)
• A new elementary school #15 at the Sagecrest site (Opens fall 2016)
• A new middle school #5 at the intersection of 27th Avenue and Southridge Boulevard (Opens fall 2017)
• A new Westgate Elementary at its current site (Opens fall 2017)
• A new elementary school #16 at one of two sites to be determined (Opens fall 2018)

Other bond projects include new roofing (Horse Heaven Hills, Highlands, Park), HVAC (Southridge, Horse Heaven Hills, Vista), IT network upgrades, land for a future elementary and high school, pre-design work on a new Kennewick High School, and other bond costs/fees.

School construction costs are estimated to be $141,500,000 and other projects are $14,600,000. The district anticipates that it will receive $66,600,000 in state matching dollars for school construction, making the total bond amount $89,500,000.

The estimated annual tax increase on a $200,000 home would be $3.67 per month or $44 per year beginning in 2016. This is an increase of 22 cents per thousand dollars of assessed property value over the estimated 2015 tax rate.

Student Enrollment Growth

In the past six years, Kennewick School District student enrollment has increased by more than 2,000 students – more than 1,240 are elementary students (enough to fill two additional elementary schools) and more than 380 are middle school students.

The district currently has 119 portable classrooms. A total of 59 portable classrooms surround the elementary schools and 33 surround middle schools.

Aging Buildings

Desert Hills Middle School opened in 1977 and has never had a significant remodel. The multi-building school currently sits on an approximately 19-acre site, the smallest of all of the middle schools. The existing buildings on the Desert Hills campus have sewer/storm drainage, electrical, HVAC, foundation, and access issues.

The school board recently decided to relocate Desert Hills Middle School to a new site adjacent to Clodfelter Road that will provide increased access for vehicles, more space for no-cut sports and better security. The future of the old site will be decided at a later date by the board. 

If the bond passes, construction could begin as early as March on the new Desert Hills Middle School. Construction is estimated to be completed in 14 to 16 months and will open in fall 2016. While the school is being completed, students would remain in the current Desert Hills building.

Westgate Elementary opened in 1952 and was upgraded in 1982. It has fewer classrooms than most Kennewick schools and the infrastructure systems, including sewer and storm drainage are beyond repair. It currently has 11 portable classrooms, the most of any Kennewick school.

More details and information will be coming about the bond over the next few months.

If you have a group interested in receiving an informational presentation about the bond, please contact Robyn Chastain at (509) 222-7424.