Growing Concerns About the Lake Chelan School District Bond Issue April 2019

The Lake Chelan School District has presented to the community a massive, and far reaching school bond measure of $75.5 million. This proposal also includes $59 million for a new high school and third campus.

Student enrollment in the Lake Chelan School District has been flat and stagnant for the past 20 years. The justification to build a new high school, at a cost of $59 million, has been that the schools are crowded, and more space is needed. However, in 2013, the LCSD passed a capital improvement tax levy that built four new classrooms at a cost of nearly $2 million; this new space will house over 100 students even though K-12 full time student enrollment is not increasing.

Recently, the LCSD made the decision to spend about $1 million on remodeling space for a new district office for the administration. I was told in my recent meeting with the superintendent and school board that this project was not in the bond ballot title, nor the school board resolution in 2013. Yet, the Lake Chelan School District board of directors and school superintendent prioritized this project over other more pressing needs in the district. In this same meeting that I had with the superintendent and two board members last week, it was also stated that replacing all the HVAC units on the secondary campus would cost a total of $1.1 million. My question is, why has new administrative space been prioritized over the needs of our kids and buildings?

In addition, last week information was shared with me regarding the number of students being served in the LCSD that are “out-of-district” (sometimes referred to as “choice students”). These students do not live in the boundaries of the Lake Chelan School District. These students and families must apply to attend schools in Lake Chelan each school year, and the superintendent can approve those applications, if he chooses to do so. I have reached out to the superintendent and school board for documentation regarding the total number of choice students K-12, as well as choice students at each grade level. I have been told that staff will begin working on this request on Wednesday 4-3-19.  *It should be noted that a very credible local source has indicated that there are at least 150 choice students in the LCSD. My question is, if the schools are so crowded as some state today, why would the superintendent allow choice students to attend our schools?

This bond issue before the Lake Chelan community should be soundly defeated, and the community should work with the school board to prioritize some identified capital improvements over time in the most cost effective and efficient method possible. Keep the Lake Chelan School District debt free, make small improvements that are needed, and when enrollment does increase, then and only then, consider a new campus and school building.

Jim Busey,
Former Superintendent of Schools
in the Lake Chelan School District
368 Lord Acres Road
Chelan, WA 98816

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