Bond issue raises more questions than answers

Greg Lynch, superintendent of the Central Kitsap School District, has a tough sell to make to the voters of Kitsap County when the district decides to ask for a bond.

Lynch created a task force earlier this school year to discuss when the best time to ask the voters for a bond would be and to decide whether to study closing an elementary school in the district. During a regular school board meeting on Tuesday night, Lynch updated the board members on where the committee was in its discussions and the types of questions each topic is bringing up.

The committee is made up of nine representatives from the Community Finance Committee, the Facilities Advisory Committee, and Central Kitsap Citizens for Quality Education, two parent representatives, three representatives from employee unions and four administrators. The committee will have a recommendation to the board at the Dec. 8 meeting in the PineCrest Elementary School gymnasium at 7 p.m.

On the school closures study side, the committee has looked at how a school closure would impact student learning and the impact a school closure would have on the community and how it impacts the district’s strategic plan.

In addition, the district is trying to factor in what impact the Navy’s restructuring will have on the student enrollment numbers. The district receives an allotment of funding for each student who has one parent in the military or who is a civilian contractor with the military.

The Bremerton base lost three ships in the last year: USS Sacramento was decommissioned in October, the USS Bridge was transferred to a civilian command last spring and the USS Camden was decommissioned in the spring. In addition, the USS Carl Vinson will leave in January to go to Virginia for refueling and the submarine USS Parche was decommissioned in October.

The Bremerton base will gain one aircraft carrier in January when the USS Stennis changes homeports from San Diego. In the last two years, the Bangor base has gained two submarines, the USS Pennsylvania and the USS Nebraska, both of which came from Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Georgia. The USS Jimmy Carter is due to arrive this spring to replace the USS Parche.

The timing of the bond initiative also raises some interesting questions. The district was unable to pass a $60 million bond in September 2003. Now, the district bond and how much the bond should be for. The district also is trying to decide between a bond or a capital levy.

If the district opts for a capital levy, some of the construction projects would be delayed. A capital levy works like a savings account. The taxes that come in for the bond would be set aside for the specific projects outlined in the bond initiative. Once the money builds up, the construction projects could begin. On the flip side, if the district passes a bond, it can immediately sell those bonds and begin construction.

A bond levy works like a home mortgage, where the money is given in a lump sum and the district would pay it off. In a bond, however, the property taxes would pay back the bank loan instead of the school district.

If the district opts for a capital levy, the district would be debt-free by 2011 because it would be spending money as it collects rather than paying off a debt, said finance director Gary Powell.

With a bond, the payback schedule would be on a graduated scale where the payback amount would increase gradually after five years.

If the school district were to pass a $40 million bond in 2005 and begin payment in 2006, the increased tax bill on a $150,000 home would be $39. Currently, $358 of a tax bill for a $150,000 house goes to the school district to pay off the bond voters approved in 1992.

In addition, the school board members heard a presentation from Bremerton-based Dimension 4, which employs about 15-20 Central Kitsap students on a part-time basis. The company moved from Seattle to Bremerton to capitalize on the steady flow of high school students in Kitsap who are specially trained for their computer systems.

The district also decided to let parents opt out of releasing their graduating student’s information to military recruiters. The change was made to comply with No Child Left Behind.

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