A fiscally responsible move by the district
It was a bold move, but one that likely saved taxpayers approximately $3 million. Here’s the story …
The 2014 voter-approved capital construction bond included money for minor improvements to Spruce Elementary School in Lynnwood. It allowed for enough funds to add a few classrooms and, at best, minimally upgrade parts of the existing buildings. When the district’s Capital Projects Department analyzed the project, they concluded this was a poor investment of taxpayer money because it would not solve fundamental problems of safety, security, functionality and code compliance. It would have been more expensive to bring Spruce up to standard than to tear it down and build a brand new building. This is often the case with older buildings.
So what happened? The district decided, with School Board approval, to design a complete replacement of the school. The plan was to use existing bond funds, revenue from selling other district property, and state grants. Well, the property sales are still pending. However, because the district managed the other bond projects well, it was able to complete the first phase of replacing Spruce Elementary with existing resources. This first phase provided useful facilities for the school including a cafeteria, gym, music room and counseling area.
By completing Phase 1 in September 2019, the district saved approximately $3 million taxpayer dollars by avoiding construction inflation costs if we had waited a few years to begin the new build.
If voters approve the April 2021 capital levy, Phase 2 (the final phase) of construction would begin spring 2021 and finish by September 2022.