Melinda Lincicome remembers when her daughter was in kindergarten in the Lake Washington School District (LWSD).
“Her kindergarten class didn’t even have a permanent classroom,” she said. “Their class was held in the communal group space and they had to cross into other classrooms just to get to the bathroom.”
That was was back in the early 2000s. Her daughter is now a freshman at Lake Washington High School (LWHS). She and other students are still feeling the squeeze due to overcrowding.
Over the past 10 years, the district has grown by 6,218 students, a 26 percent growth. As of October of 2018, 29,987 are enrolled in LWSD.
An additional 2,000 students are projected to enroll in the district by 2022.
To address the continuing growth of the district, a capital projects levy will be on the April 23 ballot.
The levy, if passed, will provide permanent classroom additions at LWHS (20 classrooms), Rachel Carson Elementary School (four classrooms), Benjamin Franklin Elementary School (eight classrooms), Rose Hill Elementary School (eight classrooms) and Mark Twain Elementary school (four classrooms).
The classroom additions will add capacity for 1,052 students.
The levy would also provide an additional auxiliary gymnasium and commons space at LWHS; additional core facilities at Rachel Carson, Ben Franklin, Rose Hill and Mark Twain elementary schools.
The final part of the levy will provide exterior security cameras at elementary schools, as well as entrance modifications to entrances of LWHS, Eastlake High School and Redmond High School.
The levy authorizes a six-year levy totaling $120 million or $20 million per year for six years. The 2019 levy maintains the current tax rate with no rate increase.
Lincicome, the Lake Washington PTSA (LWPTSA) council president, said there’s nothing negative about the levy. If the levy is approved, homeowners would pay the same school district tax rate for capital construction with no increase.
The current rate for construction is $1.15 per $1,000 of assessed valuation (AV) and that would remain the same.
Numerous community members, parents, and state representatives support the levy.
“We must ensure that LWSD’s facilities keep pace with its recent explosive growth so our students can continue to benefit from the highest quality education,” Roger Goodman, state representative for the 45th Legislative District said on the vote4lwsdkids.org endorsements website.
Chris Carlson, an LWSD board member, also emphasized the importance of the levy.
“It cannot be over-emphasized how critical it is for our district to address issues of crowding in the classroom that are a consequence of the unprecedented population growth in our district over the past decade,” he said on the website. “This measure is a key step in addressing the ongoing crisis. Please join me in supporting our kids.”
Lincicome said while the levy is going to alleviate overcrowding and enhance security for current and future students, she said it’s “just the first step.”
“We want to raise awareness that the levy isn’t going to solve all our problems,” she said. “It’s one step toward that goal. We want to be a great district for our kids and it’s going to be an ongoing process to accommodate for our growing district.”