School board to consider capital projects levy

By Oliver Lazenby

The Blaine School District board of directors will consider asking voters to pass a $12 million capital levy at its next meeting, on Monday, January 22.

The levy would fund a variety of capital projects that the district would like to complete in the next six years.

The work that the district wants to do is estimated at about $11 million, but the board discussed a $12 million levy to leave a buffer for contingency costs. With levy money, the district would focus on projects it has already committed to, including replacing or updating the existing grandstand structure and purchasing property for a future Birch Bay school.

The district committed to the grandstand in its 2015 bond but cancelled the project due to higher than estimated construction costs. The board passed a resolution in 2014 to buy property in Birch Bay once it could figure out how to fund a purchase.

At a January 4 special meeting, the board directed district superintendent Ron Spanjer to pursue placing a six-year levy on the April 24, special election ballot. Spanjer will bring a resolution to the board’s January 22 meeting and the board will vote on whether to send it to voters.

The levy would start in 2019 and need a simple majority of 50 percent to pass. Property owners would pay roughly 50 cents per thousand dollars of assessed value at current property values, said Amber Porter, district finance director.

After considering three timelines, the school board decided on the most aggressive one, which would allow the district to begin building this year and complete all identified projects in 2024, the levy’s final year. That would require something called non-voted debt meaning the district could go into debt starting projects before it actually has levy funds and pay back that debt once it begins collecting the levy in 2019.

“We may want to consider doing that in light of the fact that construction costs have been escalating so quickly,” Porter told the board on January 4. “The costs could be escalating faster than the interest rate we would be paying on non-voted debt.”

Aside from those projects, the district has ideas in mind for levy dollars. The district appointed a capital review committee in September that, over the course of three meetings, came up with a list of projects the district should complete in the course of the levy. The committee’s recommendation included the following projects (A full list, including price estimates, is online at

• Main gym complex: new roofing, new paint, flooring and heating upgrades

• Performing arts center: roofing, gutters, paint, stage and restroom upgrades

• Middle school: cafeteria flooring, gym exterior patching and painting, gym roof/gutter replacement and heating upgrades.

• Primary school: rooftop heating units.

• Campuswide: work to parking lots, lighting, sidewalks, security cameras, electronic locks and new storage facility.

• Vocational building: painting, ceiling tile, carpeting and restroom upgrades.

• Pipeline fields complex: irrigation systems, field renovations, softball dugouts, pole building improvements and equipment storage.

The levy would also fund technology and equipment for vocational classes.

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