Local Election

Ballots out this week for Nooksack Valley School District’s $27.9 million bond

Nooksack Valley School District is looking for voter approval of a $27.9 million bond that would replace a 68-year-old middle school and a portion of the high school.

Ballots were mailed this week for the Feb. 10 special election. The 20-year bond would allow the district to replace Nooksack Valley Middle School, renovate parts of Nooksack Valley High School, and add classrooms to Nooksack Valley Elementary School.

“This is a nice chance for our community to put together the facilities our kids need,” district Superintendent Mark Johnson said.

The bond will require 60 percent voter approval to pass. It would raise taxes $1.72 per $1,000 of a home’s assessed value, or $430 per year for the owner of a home valued at $250,000. The previous bond that expired in 2013 averaged $2.38 per $1,000 of a home’s assessed value.

The middle school was constructed in 1947, and Principal Joel VanderYacht pointed out a number of issues with the building that the faculty and students have had to work around.

The locker room stalls have no toilets, and instead are used only as a place for students to change clothes. The bleachers in the undersized gym do not move, making it difficult to organize activities. Students also have a hard time fitting in the small cafeteria.

Most classrooms have only a couple electrical outlets in them, creating a problem when teachers want to use technology in class, VanderYacht said.

“It prevents us from using the technology that’s currently out there,” VanderYacht said.

There are myriad heating, plumbing and electrical issues in the building as well, Johnson said.

The district also would replace a portion of the high school that was built in 1954, if the bond passes. The replacement would add a new Science, Technology, Engineering and Math classroom and a new counseling and career center. In addition, the district would add a fitness and athletic center to replace the current weight room, which school Principal Matt Galley said is so small and dark that it is potentially unsafe.

“It’s substandard, really,” Galley said. “Our kids deserve better.”

The agricultural sciences, wood shop and art classrooms in the high school also would be renovated.

Other improvements to school facilities in the proposed bond include four classrooms added to Nooksack Valley Elementary School and better security and surveillance for all schools in the district.

Replacing the middle school would cost $22 million, and the high school renovations would cost $7.6 million. The additional elementary school classrooms would cost around $2 million. The state is expected to match an estimated $7.4 million if the bond is passed.

An 18-member committee of parents, teachers, board members and administrators recommended the renovations included in the proposed bond. They settled on a replacement of the middle school because it would be more economically sound long term, VanderYacht said.

For more information about the bond, visit Nooksack Valley School District’s website, nv.k12.wa.us.