Lynden School District seeks $46 million bond to pay for new middle, elementary schools

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDAugust 17, 2013 

LYNDEN - Residents of Lynden School District will have a chance to vote next February on a $46 million bond to pay for a new Lynden Middle School and new Fisher Elementary School.

The Lynden School Board unanimously approved the bond for the February ballot at its meeting Thursday, Aug. 15.

Sixty percent of voters in the district will have to approve the bond for it to pass. If approved, the 20-year bond would increase property taxes for a home assessed at $250,000 by more than $400 a year. The district retired its last capital bonds in 2010.

"We want to focus on the needs that we have," said Superintendent Jim Frey. "There are significant needs at each of those schools that we need to address, and this is how we go about doing it."

The current middle school dates back to the 1930s, with some additions made in the '60s. Fisher Elementary was built in 1961, with some additions over the next two decades.

Both schools are expensive to maintain, Frey said, with issues in plumbing and electrical systems, and limits in lab, meeting and storage space. The schools also don't accommodate new technology well.

"We know we can maximize our kids' education by providing better facilities," he said.

In addition to the new schools, the bond would pay off limited general obligation bonds that were used to buy land on Line Road in 2009. The property is where the district would like to build its new middle school. The elementary school would be built on its current property.

A Citizens for Lynden Schools committee is forming to get information to residents about the bond and to answer people's questions.

"What people in Lynden do want to know is 'why.' They want to know that it's actually needed. They want to have the facts," said Steve Gatterman, who has been organizing the committee. "We are at a critical state in Lynden with our schools. It's unfortunate. People in Lynden take a lot of pride in our city and people take a lot of pride in our schools ... but we have a hard time getting our facilities up to speed."

The committee will next meet at 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 19, at Fire Station 71 on 19th Street in Lynden.

Reach ZOE FRALEY at zoe.fraley@bellinghamherald.com or call 756-2803.

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