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Lynden to send $48 million school bond to voters in April

Eighth-grade students crowd the hallway on their way to lunch at Lynden Middle School on Dec. 10, 2010.  The school board is seeking a construction bond to replace the school, which dates back to the 1930s.
Eighth-grade students crowd the hallway on their way to lunch at Lynden Middle School on Dec. 10, 2010. The school board is seeking a construction bond to replace the school, which dates back to the 1930s. The Bellingham Herald

The Lynden School District will send a $48 million, 20-year bond to voters in April to rebuild a middle school and elementary school a year after a similar $46 million bond was turned down.

The Lynden School Board approved a resolution to send the bond to voters during a meeting on Jan. 8. Residents will have the opportunity to approve the bond in a special election on April 28. It will require 60 percent voter approval to pass.

The bond would allow the district to replace Lynden Middle School and Fisher Elementary School. The middle school would be built on a separate site on Line Road, a few miles from its current location, and the elementary school would be rebuilt at its current location.

If the bond is approved, the district anticipates $12.3 million in state-matching funds.

Jim Frey, Lynden School District superintendent, said the district has tried to pass multiple bonds since 2006 with the goal of replacing the two schools. Last year, around 57 percent of voters approved the bond, short of the required 60 percent approval.

The district has not yet determined how much the bond would raise property taxes. The most recent school bond approved by voters expired in 2010, Frey said.

After the $46 million bond failed last year, Frey said the board decided to “take a fresh look” at the needs of the district. A facilities committee independently re-evaluated what could be improved, and they decided the two new schools still were necessary, Frey said.

The bond is $2 million more than last year mostly because of the increased cost of construction, Frey said.

The 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.

Frey said Lynden Middle School can currently hold 600 students. He believes a new middle school is needed to accommodate an estimated increase to 700 students in the next few years. A new Fisher Elementary would increase its capacity to 500 students from the current level of 400.

“With the class-size initiative and the growth in our community, we’re anticipating we’ll need more room,” Frey said.

The facilities committee determined it was more cost effective to replace the two schools than remodel. Frey is hoping more residents recognize the need for the reconstruction of the two schools this year.

“The reason this is coming back in this way is because these are the needs,” Frey said.

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