The Kent School District submitted a $495 million bond measure to voters on the April 25 special election ballot. COURTESY FILE PHOTO, Kent School District

The Kent School District submitted a $495 million bond measure to voters on the April 25 special election ballot. COURTESY FILE PHOTO, Kent School District

Voters turn down Kent School District bond measure

54.13% no votes to 45.87% yes votes; 60% yes needed for passage

Voters in the Kent School District are soundly defeating Proposition No. 1, a $495 million bond proposal to upgrade schools.

The measure received 54.13% (9,824) no votes and 45.87% (8,324) yes votes, according to results released Tuesday night, April 25 by King County Elections. A total of 18,203 ballots have been counted. Results will be updated each day, but to pass a 60% majority is needed, meaning the measure is way short of the votes necessary for passage.

The district planned to use the funds for security improvements, including upgrades to access control, communication systems, alarm systems, security camera replacements, ADA improvements, reader boards and increased space for counseling services at middle schools.

The district also wanted to use bond proceeds to modernize elementary schools to accommodate pre-K education, and to repair, remodel, and upgrade school and administrative buildings districtwide, including improvements to HVAC, technology, boilers, roofs and interior and exterior paint. In addition, the district planned to upgrade all parking lot lights, improve outdoor facilities at all school sites, including inclusive playgrounds at elementary schools, new field buildings, upgrades to bleachers and synthetic fields at secondary sites.

The Kent School Board will need to decide when to bring the bond proposal back and how much to ask for. The current proposal included no new schools but rather upgrades throughout the district.

When district staff proposed the bond, they had hoped the approval of bonds in the Highline School District and Renton School District in November 2022 would mean a similar outcome for Kent.

When Kent sought a $252 million bond in 2016, it failed in April 2016 by 218 votes (59%) to get the 60% majority. The school board brought back the same measure in November 2016 and it received 67% approval.

The district expects tax rates to decrease in 2023 as property values increase. If voters approved the bond, the district anticipated the total tax rate for all levies (operating, capital/technology and bonds) will decrease approximately $0.29 per $1,000 of assessed value from $3.81 in 2022 to $3.52 in 2023 and 2024, the first year of collection on the bonds.

A rate of $3.52 would cost the owner of a $465,000 house in Kent about $1,636 per year for the district’s bond, capital/technology and operating levies.

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