Have a question about the ballot measures? Look here first.
During the winter of 2017-18 the City of Spokane and Spokane Public Schools were in discussions to discuss property that the city owned on North Foothills Drive as a possible location for a new middle school. Those discussions led city and district leaders to explore more options that could make use of under or unused city property in collaboration with the school district. The state’s fulfillment of funding public education meant that public our local school district tax payers would be paying less beginning in 2019 due to this funding formula. By utilizing some of the dropping tax capacity of that difference, city libraries and Spokane Public Schools could provide additional branches and modernized libraries and the school district 3 new middle schools and modernization to 3 existing middle schools to help reduce classroom size. This unique collaboration with the city council, mayor and Spokane Public Schools Board of Directors will provide residents with a true win-win-win solution for generations to come.
There will be 3 questions for voters regarding this historic partnership.
1. Do you want to invest in smaller class sizes, additional program offerings, safety and technology for our pubic schools?
2. Do you want to invest in additional and updated public libraries that include meeting spaces for the community?
3. Best location for a replacement sports-activity complex? Current Albi location or north bank of Riverfront Park.
There will be two separate measures to approve. One will be to authorize the school district for the capital projects outlined in the proposal, and the second measure to approve the capital projects on the city library side of this collaboration. Both need to pass by a 60% approval margin in order for the combined packages to begin work.
In short- lack of space. Many of the thirty-four Spokane Public Schools elementary sites are at or near capacity already. Moderate enrollment growth and the recent decision by the State Supreme Court to fully fund public education in our state will make for smaller class sizes. The combination of those events led the district to seek input from the community into moving sixth grade students into middle school. The SPS Board of Directors adopted the Grade 6-8 middle school model upon recommendation from citizen input over several months. The school district measure includes modernization of Sacajawea, Glover and Shaw middle schools, and the building of 3 new middle schools on the northeast, northwest and southeast sides of the district.
The current school levy (tax) rates for Spokane Public Schools residents will be dropping significantly ($2.20 estimated) starting in 2019 due to the state now fully funding K-12 education. These combined bond measures are estimated to cost local taxpayers less than one dollar. Therefore Spokane residents will see still see an estimated $1.20 REDUCTION in their current local tax collection beginning in 2020 from their current rate.
The County Elections Office has informed us that ballots will be mailed starting on October 17th. All ballots must be postmarked (or dropped to authorized drop-off stations) by 8 p.m. November 6th.
The city is proposing to build three new libraries and modernize four additional libraries. The partnership includes expanding Shadle Library to meeting demand and include space for Spokane Virtual Learning (SVL), building a new library on school district property adjacent to Libby Center on Sprague and include space for SVL and school district training rooms, and build a new Hillyard Library in conjunction with Shaw Middle School.
The large parcel of land that is owned by the city that would be used for a new southeast middle school is currently used as an unofficial dog park by residents in the area. Dog lovers in the area have expressed their concerns to the city council, the mayor and school board who have been working with those who use the area to secure a reasonable solution that meets everyone’s needs. Currently there are several preliminary site designs that include both a new middle school and a expansive play area for dog owners. All parties are actively working together to meet the needs of that part of town.
In addition to the two ballot measures regarding the schools and libraries, there will be an advisory vote asking voters whether or not the multi-use sports complex should be built in downtown Spokane (north of Riverfront Park) or at the current location in northwest Spokane. If approved, all current Spokane Public Schools varsity football and soccer games, as well as other city and regional activities will be played here and the current Joe Albi stadium will be taken down to make room for an additional middle school.
If not approved, the current Joe Albi stadium will be down-sized and renovated. The school district’s bond request to the public INCLUDES the cost of a stadium/multi-use complex at either location.
Regardless of the vote or location decision, a facility for GSL varisty high school and soccer football matches in the district will be needed soon. Joe Albi Stadium is over 60 years old without any major renovations during that time. Whereas Albi has a seating capacity of over 28,000, a typical high-school football game today (it’s only use anymore) brings in about 3,500-4,000 fans.
The advisory vote being presented to voters this November 6th is a citizen voice on whether a new 5,000 seat sports complex to replace Albi would be built at the current location or on the north bank of the river near Riverfront Park should both bond measures pass.
On-campus stadiums at each of the district’s five traditional high schools would be significantly more costly to build and maintain. There are also community concerns around each of the high schools about stadium lighting, noise, and traffic. Three of the five high schools do not have enough room to build adequate parking as required.
The community has brought two concerns to the city-district regarding the possibility of a north bank (downtown) stadium/sports-complex. Will there be enough parking for these high-school events and will the parking be free for the high school events? The city contracted an extensive study to determine parking availability necessary to fill a 5,000 seats venue when the vast majority of such events take place (evenings and weekends). The study found more than sufficient parking with three blocks of the proposed location (even when other events at the arena conflicted with the schedule). In all discussions and preliminary agreements it has been understood that parking will be free for all students for these events.
You can find additional information from the city, the library and the school district by going to: https://www.partnershipspokane.org