Lynden school bond passes with nearly 70 percent approval

Lynden Middle School math teacher Angie Dallas works with students, Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014 at Lynden Middle School.
Lynden Middle School math teacher Angie Dallas works with students, Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014 at Lynden Middle School. The Bellingham Herald

It took four tries, but a Lynden school bond to replace Fisher Elementary and Lynden Middle School has finally passed.

Nearly 70 percent of voters approved the $48 million, 20-year bond proposal, according to a preliminary count Tuesday night, April 28. The proposal needed a super majority of 60 percent voter approval to pass.

Lynden residents previously voted down three similar bonds. Last year, a $46 million bond proposal to replace the two schools fell just short with about 57 percent voter approval. Two bonds in 2011 to replace the middle school and renovate Fisher also failed. The last Lynden school bond expired in 2010.

Jim Frey, Lynden School District superintendent, was celebrating the results Tuesday night.

“We’re very, very grateful, and we had a great group of people work on this,” Frey said by phone, as people cheered in the background. “We’re just excited about the support the community has given us tonight.”

Property taxes will increase $1.39 per $1,000 of a home's assessed value, or about $350 a year for a home valued at $250,000, according to the district.

The district estimated the total cost to replace both schools at $64 million, but the state will provide $16 million in construction costs. The district will use an estimated $31 million to build a new middle school on Line Road, where it purchased property in 2009. The rest of the local money, $17 million, will go toward replacing Fisher Elementary at its current location off 14th Street.

The old middle school building will be used as a community learning center. Students at Fisher will temporarily use the school for classes while their school is rebuilt.

Frey said they will wait until Wednesday to think about the details of the two projects.

“Tonight we’re going to enjoy this, and we’ll think about that tomorrow,” he said.

Fisher Elementary school was built in 1961, and construction on Lynden Middle School facilities began in 1936. The middle school was originally built to support 350 students. There are now around 600 students, and the district estimates that will increase to 675 students in four years.

Frey has said it is more cost effective to replace the schools rather than remodel them. They constantly need maintenance to plumbing, heating and electrical systems, he said.

The Whatcom County Auditor’s Office will certify election results May 12.