Frequently asked questions
UPDATE: The Mercer Island Community approved this bond measure in February 2014.
Can the bond funds be used to pay for teachers?
No. State law prohibits the use of bond funds for teachers and staff.
How many portable classrooms are being used by the Mercer Island School District?
Currently the Mercer Island School District uses 34 portable classrooms at the elementary schools and middle school.
Where is all of the enrollment growth coming from?
Enrollment increases are coming from all over Mercer Island. Primarily, younger families are moving into properties where single residents or couples with grown families have lived.
What are the costs of the propositions?
The value of the bond is $102.6 million, but the state of Washington will provide $3.8 million in matching funds under the Credit Enhancement Act, meaning the obligation to Mercer Island residents is $98.8 million.
If successful, the bond would increase property taxes by $0.25 per thousand dollars of assessed property value, or about $250 additional per year on a $1 million Mercer Island property, to pay for three overcrowding solutions at the elementary, middle and high school levels.
The renewed levy would provide $14,250,000 (2015 collection), $15,100,000 (2016 collection), $16,000,000 (2017 collection), and $16,975,000 (2018 collection) to the extent authorized by law to maintain the current level of educational programs in Mercer Island schools exceeding the levels funded by the state. Mercer Island property taxes would increase by $0.06 per thousand dollars of assessed property value. For a Mercer Island property with an assessed value of $1 million, it would result in an increase of about $60 per year.
What will happen to the tenants of the district-owned North Mercer campus?
The current tenants of the district-owned North Mercer campus, including Youth Theatre Northwest, Country Village Day School, Little Acorn Day School and Children’s Institute for Learning Differences, were all notified consistently and as far back as four years ago of the intention of the school district to use the site for new district facilities.
Youth Theatre Northwest is making plans for an interim home while plans to fund and build a new Mercer Island Performing Arts Center are developed and executed. Youth Theatre Northwest is envisioned as the primary tenant of that facility.
The other current tenants of the North Mercer campus have not yet signed leases for new properties.
Early in 2013 there was a cost-estimate for the projects in the bond proposition that was significantly lower. Why was there an increase?
The four primary factors in the cost-estimate increase over time for the projects in the bond proposition are:
- False pricing created by financial crisis – 20% increase
- Energy code updates at the state level – 15% increase
- Inflation over 24 months – 7% increase
- Design changes related to the input received during the educational specifications process – 6% increase
The result was a 48% increase in the cost estimate.
How will traffic around the north-end block designated for public education facilities be impacted by the new elementary school and addition to the high school?
The Mercer Island School District hired Transpo Group to study traffic impacts in October 2012
and October 2013.
What are enrollment expectations in the future for the Mercer Island School District?
The Mercer Island School District current serves more than 4,120 full-time equivalent students. The district proactively studies enrollment and the impact of projected growth on our school facilities. In 2012, the District hired demographic specialists to update enrollment projections to 2022. Those projections are updated annually using current information.
Projections are based on the size of the population of families on Mercer Island of standard childbearing age and the share of that population that will enroll in Mercer Island kindergartens, the average grade-to-grade growth as students progress through the grades, predicted growth in the K-12 and general population and the district's share of that growth and the effect of private schools on enrollment.
Those forecasts show enrollment levels in 2022 between 4,380 (low estimate) and 4,712 (high estimate) students. These estimates do not include the impact of Sound Transit light rail coming to Mercer Island in 2023. Read about the Mercer Island School District demographic trends and enrollment projections made by Les Kendrick, Ph.D. in November of 2012 by clicking here.