Frequently Asked Questions
Question: If we vote YES to continue the current tax rate, what do we get?
This tax rate provides more than $110.9 million in much-needed improvements at each and every school in our district. The local funds allow Monroe to qualify for $21.3 million in state matching dollars allowing a total of $132 million in projects. These funds will provide funding to keep older buildings warm, safe, secure and prepared to meet the needs of students today!
For specifics, click here to go to the Projects Overview section of our website.
Question: How can we get so much with no increase?
All of the past bonds are retiring in 2016. The current rate for those bonds is $1.48 per $1,000 of assessed property value. Volunteers on the Capital Facilities committee strongly recommended keeping any bond proposal at the same current rate. The advice was echoed by our community through both online and in-person Listening Tours with Monroe’s School Board members.
Question: How were the projects selected?
13 months of study and discussion by the all-volunteer Capital Facilities committee started the process. Their recommendations then went out to our community for review and feedback. Finally, after almost 6 months of discussion, the School Board voted in December to place the bond on the April 28 ballot with these projects:
- Modernize Park Place Middle School
- Modernize & Expand Salem Woods Elementary School
- Expand Hidden River Middle School
- Consolidate & Expand Frank Wagner Elementary School
- Catch up on smaller facility improvements and major maintenance at all schools
- Build ball fields at Monroe High School
Question: Why is Park Place Middle at the top of the list?
Built in the mid-70s when everyone thought it was a great idea to save money with outdoor hallways. Really? Had they lived through a Washington winter? Apparently not.
Imagine some of the stories we’ve seen on the news? Today no one would dare to conceive a school where all classroom doors open directly to the outside. What if the unthinkable happens and there is a lockdown? Oh boy! Sure, Park Place Middle staff members have a plan and have practiced that plan to keep kids safe in such a situation but safety would be greatly improved with interior hallways.
Now imagine a typical rainy day here. Imagine what those wet shoes track into carpeted classes. Imagine thousands of students walking on that carpet for decades? Visualize one outlet per wall. That’s right, one! Now think about the world we are preparing our kids for, that’s not even enough outlets to keep a handful of laptops charged.
And the list goes on and on. Clearly this school facility has served its purpose and needed to modernize to provide the education today’s kids need.
This proposal saves money by keeping some of the newer and more valuable spaces by maintaining the Library and D buildings as well as refreshing the Gym and Commons area. The current classroom wings will be rebuilt between these spaces under one roof. The fields behind the school will also be improved for almost 24/7 use by installing all-weather playing surfaces for football, softball and a track. This is the biggest project at $69 million. Given the age of this school, it is eligible for state matching funds. The only way schools get state funding like this is if their community approves local funding to “match” the state. In reality, schools only get this money after it is spent according to state rules.
Question: What about Salem Woods?
More of those exterior hallways are part of the current Salem Woods Elementary campus. Built in the early 1980s, this school also struggles with outdated heating system that often leaves kids with the coats on inside the classroom. Instead of learning those kids are just trying to keep warm – obviously not in the best interest of these kids or the future of our community.
Phase 1 of this $23.5 million modernization replaces classroom wings and portables with a 2-story structure featuring interior hallways. The proposal adds classroom space to the school as much of our area’s growth is north of Hwy. 2 where this school is located. A second phase in the future would replace the gym building. Given the age of this school, it is eligible for state matching funds. The only way schools get state funding like this is if their community approves local funding to “match” the state. In reality, schools only get this money after it is spent according to state rules.
Question: Hidden River is pretty new, so why does it need expansion?
Built in 1999, Hidden River Middle was designed to be built in phases. So far it has basic classrooms, a small library/computer lab and a gym. Even after two phases, kids are still forced to study science and art in portables. This $18.2 million proposal would add specialized classrooms for science labs, a computer lab, art instruction and a “materials lab” which could be used for a variety of purposes from robotics to wood fabrication.
Middle school years are a pivotal time for kids growing up. It is often during this age span when children discover their passion – what really excites and interests them. If you have ever been the parent of a middle schooler, you know that is not always an easy journey.
Right now options at Hidden River are limited compared to Park Place Middle. Our schools need to have equity in opportunity. That was one of the reasons those portables were brought in. Yet, bringing in the portables created those outside hallways again. For greater safety and security – let alone drier kids – specialized classrooms are needed under one roof.
Question: Don’t all those portables at Frank Wagner create outdoor hallways?
Correct. That’s one of the reasons the 8 portable classrooms at Frank Wagner Elementary are proposed to be replaced with a new two-story building that will attach the current specialized classroom area with the existing two-story classroom building.
The new $14.9 million 2-story building will have additional classrooms also for the new students moving into that area as well as a library. Currently, students walk – rain or shine - all the way over to Wagner Center to check out a library book.
Question: My kids don’t go to these schools, what’s in this bond for my kids?
Each and every school in our public school system will benefit from this bond request. Some schools are newer so are not in as great a need as others but all schools have needs. In fact, the needs add up to more than $18 million but some of those needs are addressed in the larger projects in the proposal. There is $4 million in this request to catch up on the rest.
- Chain Lake Elementary School - $725,000 - New entry to parking lot; Roof replacement; Gym drainage; Sump pumps for utility vaults; Replace chalkboards with dry erase boards
- Fryelands Elementary School - $130,000 - Noise reduction in hallways; Repair main entry window wall; Inlay gym lines saving 80 hours of custodial time per year
- Maltby Elementary School - $60,000 - Resurface playground asphalt; Inlay game lines saving 80 hours of custodial time per year
- Monroe High School - $395,000 - Upgrade/additional lighting in Performing Arts Center; Track repairs and resurfacing; Improve access to stadium by athletes and for safety of spectators
- Sky Valley Education Center – $1.01 million - Update electrical; Allowance for replacement of selected flooring; Access for those with disabilities to band room; Upgrade/expand fire alarm system; Upgrade plumbing; Increase off street parking; Replace heat pump compressors & refrigerant
- Leaders in Learning in Wagner Center - $90,000 - Gutters and downspouts; Replace heat pump compressors & refrigerant
- Support sites - Transportation Department ($125,000) - Resurface asphalt in bus parking area; Maintenance Department ($50,000) - Replace roofing; Administration Building ($345,000) - Upgrade electrical; Replace flooring
- Safety/Security - $350,000 - Cameras, visitor system, keyless entry, lighting, and more
- Additional Building Systems in a variety of locations - $375,000 - Roofing, windows, sidewalks, asphalt, flooring, etc.
- Heating and Ventilation - $170,000 - Heating, ventilation and AC systems and controls
- Electrical - $175,000 - High and low voltage systems and capacity
Question: What about where kids play?
Monroe is the only high school in our region without ball fields on the main campus. Land is available for two softball/fast pitch fields and a baseball field. Unfortunately, the ground is really wet and no grass grows there. As a result, student use of the fields is very limited for PE and athletics.
Drainage and all-weather playing surfaces are needed for greater PE class use, to keep kids on campus for after school sports, and to share these spaces with the many community-based teams.
In fact, construction of the first softball/fast pitch fields is starting this spring with money generously contributed by the City of Monroe, a grant from the county and revenue raised from selling timber from school district-owned land.
The $3.3 million proposal will; add the baseball field and build the utility field that could serve as a second fast pitch/softball field that would have the adjustable bases and pitching mound to accommodate a variety of community leagues.
Question: Why do we need fancy all-weather fields instead of cheap grass?
True grass fields are less expensive until you start adding up the cost per use. On average a grass field w/o drainage underneath (aka Memorial Field in Monroe) is limited to 90 uses per year or 45 per season (fall and spring). Each time the field is used … varsity game, JV game, freshman game, team practice, marching band practice … counts as one use. If the weather is particularly wet during that season the field will be reserved only for games. If rain persists then only the varsity team will be allowed to play on the field. If it continues to pour down rain then the field is closed and home games must be played on the opposing team’s field. An all-weather surface is playable virtually 24/7.
Question: I don’t have kids in school, why should I VOTE YES?
Futures begin in our schools. Today's students are tomorrow's leaders for our community, our state and our country. Giving them access to modern, safer learning environments helps put our local kids on the road to success.
Higher property values - On a personal level, homeowners enjoy higher property values when they sell their home in districts where schools are modern and children are successful. Research shows families are attracted to communities with successful school districts, which is why families continue to move here. However, this increase in student population has caused crowding in some area. To build on the success we’ve made so far, alleviate crowding and continue to attract families to our community, we must take action on April
Economic Boost for Monroe – Having good schools attracts young families to our town who shop in our local businesses making it a more vibrant town for all. It was one of the reasons the City Council unanimously voted to support this bond.
Better efficiency saves tax dollars - By replacing old heating and ventilation systems with newer, more energy efficient systems, we save valuable tax dollars and take care of our environment.
Greater safety for the community’s kids - We can't wait for tragedy to strike before we enhance safety and security measures at our schools. Additional security cameras, locks and other safety and security improvements give us more assurances that our local kids are safe while they learn.
Question: Didn’t we just vote for schools last year?
In February 2014 voters generously approved four more years in our basic “learning” levy that supports teachers in classrooms, textbooks and help for struggling students as well as many other day-to-day operations in schools that the state does not support. On average, the state only funds about 70% of the cost of our school district. In addition, voters also approved a 6-year Technology Levy that helps Monroe students catch up to modern standards in how computers and other devices are used today in business and life.
To fund larger projects like modernizing a whole school, it takes more dollars than a levy could collect even if you collect it for several years. Bonds are like a mortgage where the money is borrowed initially then paid back over time.