Northwest NEWS

January 21, 2002

Front Page

NSD seeks support for three measures on Feb. 5 ballot

by Jeanette Knutson
   Staff Writer
   Northshore School District (NSD) voters are being asked to approve two school levies and a bond issue on the Feb. 5 Special Election ballot.
   Both school levies - the maintenance-and-operations (M & O) levy and the technology levy - are four-year levies, replacing prior levies approved by voters in 1998 that are set to expire in 2002.
   Payment on the bond issue - the capital projects bond - will be collected over 20 years and will include debt service from previous bond issues.
   The bottom line is the total cost to taxpayers for these three measures in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006 is estimated at $5.17 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. This $5.17 sum is less than the $5.98 rate voters approved in 1994, 1996 and 1998 school elections.
   Proposition No. 1, the M & O levy, is designed to collect $132 million over the next four years. This amount represents about 20 percent of the district's general budget and would be used to help pay for such items as teaching and instructional support, extra curricular activities, facilities operation, and transportation not funded by the state.
   Proposition No. 2, the technology levy, would net a total of $14 million for the school district over four years. It is needed, district officials say, to augment Northshore's long-range technology plan, designed to keep students apace with an increasingly competitive global economy.
   Funds from the tech levy would be used to provide and maintain computer workstations in the classroom, provide telecommunications support, increase network capabilities, and provide basic and specialized technology for traditional and special needs students.
   Proposition No. 3, the capital projects bond, would provide $98 million that would be used to modernize existing classrooms, expand existing facilities, improve fields, renovate older schools, acquire sites, upgrade technology and comply with new codes and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
   While the bonds would be payable over the next 20 years, Northshore is often able to pay off bonds sooner because of refinancing opportunities during the payback period. Furthermore, the Northshore School District is among a select few districts in the state that enjoy a rating of "Aa3" from Moody's Investors Service and "AA-" from Standard & Poors.
   As a result, the district is able to sell bonds at more favorable rates, translating into lower local taxes.
   Northshore School District Superintendent Dr. Karen Forys said the district has "an enviable reputation for excellent schools."
   She said, "Among Washington state districts, we are considered one of the leaders - in academic achievement (and) the use of technology as a learning tool ... ."
   February's Northshore School District ballot measures were crafted, citizen supporters say, to continue that tradition of excellence.