Next steps to be mulled this month after failed Sequim school bond

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

SEQUIM –– Sequim School Board members will consider later this month the district's next steps after voters rejected a proposed $154 million construction bond in April.

Results of the April 22 election certified Tuesday by Clallam and Jefferson counties' elections departments showed that 55.4 percent of voters in the district rejected the proposition.

The School Board did not discuss the failed bond Monday night. Superintendent Kelly Shea said he purposely left the bond off the agenda.

“It was a very emotional experience for many people,” Shea said.

“Right now, it's time to take a breath and relax.”

He said the bond would be on the agenda for the School Board's next meeting May 19.

Jerry Sinn, a Sequim resident, called for more public consideration of future bond planning, saying the board's February decision to put the measure before the voters in April did not leave enough time for community input.

“It would have been better to have more time to see what our options are and what options the community would support,” Sinn said.

Portable purchase

Part of the need for the bond, district officials said, was to create space to house an influx of kindergarten students when the district switches to all-day kindergarten next school year.

That problem has been partially solved. Shea reported Monday night that the district has purchased a used two-classroom portable building for $78,774, including installation and delivery.

Brian Lewis, director of business operations, said the portable had been used in the Parkrose School District in Portland, Ore.

Two computer labs will be moved inside the building at Helen Haller Elementary School to make room for a kindergarten classroom.

Haller now has one computer lab. Shea said the second will be needed because computerized state tests occupy the existing computers for most of the day.

Buses arrive

The first two buses funded by a special tax approved in 2013 and being levied this year on Sequim property owners have arrived, with four more expected by Friday.

The Bluebird buses were paid for by a $1.6 million property tax levy approved by voters in 2013 to fund the purchase of 17 buses.

The one-year levy is taxed at a rate of 44 cents per $1,000 assessed property value.

Lewis said the district will order three more buses for November delivery in July. Another six buses will be ordered in November for delivery in May 2015.

Library makes pitch

The board also heard Monday from representatives of the North Olympic Library System about its plans for a new public library building in Sequim.

The library is considering a new building, with officials saying the current branch is too small.

A feasibility study done last fall called for a $7 million building to be constructed on the site of the existing library at 630 N. Sequim Ave.

Assistant Director Margaret Jakubcin, who will take over as the library's executive director after Paula Barnes retires July 4, said the library would like to continue to explore the possibility of a joint library shared between the library district and the school district.

Shea spoke to the library's board of directors April 24 about the same idea.

The library plans to convene a citizen panel to guide its decision on a new library in Sequim.

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Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at jsmillie@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: May 06. 2014 7:46PM
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