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Lynden trying again to pass bond to rebuild high school, add classrooms to elementary schools

After failed measure in February, district aims to convince voters before August election

Lynden High School is bright blue lettering as a car is parked next to the school buildings.
A bond to rebuild Lynden High School, add permanent classrooms and expand shared space at Isom Elementary and Bernice Vossbeck Elementary, and install cooling and air circulation units at Fisher Elementary and Lynden Middle School will be on the ballot in August. (Andy Bronson/Cascadia Daily News)
By Charlotte Alden General Assignment/Enterprise Reporter

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The Lynden School District’s bond measure in February fell short of passing by nearly 10 percentage points. Now, the district is going to voters again in August with the same proposal, but a new focus and campaign strategy. 

The $157.5 million, 20-year bond asks taxpayers to commit to an estimated additional tax rate of $1.36 per $1,000 in assessed property value to rebuild Lynden High School, add classrooms to Isom and Bernice Vossbeck elementary schools, and upgrade safety, security and accessibility across district facilities. 

A homeowner with a $500,000 home would pay roughly $678 more in taxes a year. However, if property values rise, or if more buildings and residences are constructed in the district, the tax rate would adjust accordingly to ensure the district collects no more than the $157.5 million approved by voters, if the bond passes. 

The district estimates the new high school, which would include a performing arts venue and updated athletic facilities, would cost $129.7 million to construct. The capacity expansions at the elementary schools would cost $18.8 million, and the facility upgrades across the district would cost an additional $8.9 million. 

Superintendent David VanderYacht said the only new project the bond would cover is some safety features and outdoor play equipment for the property the district leases for the Parent Partnership Program. 

VanderYacht emphasized the need to invest in school facilities due to the growth of Lynden over the last few decades. 

“When Lynden High School was built in 1980, we had a population of 4,000. And now we have a population of just under 17,000,” he said. 

VanderYacht said the district has a “responsibility” to provide “safe, modern learning environments” for students. In the new high school, he highlighted the opportunity to provide more space for trades and skills education. 

Michelle McIlvoy, a member of Citizens for Lynden Schools, said during the February election, the committee focused on activating potential yes voters by meeting with specific groups. This time around, they’re campaigning more publicly at local events to encourage more people to vote.

McIlvoy said the bond is essential to allow school facilities in Lynden to “match the dedication of the staff and the administration.” 

On the issue of safety and security at Lynden High School, McIlvoy said there are 70-plus exterior doors to the school. She said the new building could eliminate the risk of so many access points, as well as provide more natural light in the rooms to benefit students’ mental health. 

VanderYacht said the tax rate includes funds for fees and interest related to the project, and emphasized that the tax rate would change if property values go up or down. 

“What doesn’t happen over the 20 years, is the district does not absorb a windfall of resources because home values increase,” he said. “The auditor adjusts that levy rate every year, based on the total assessed value across our school district. So, there’s checks and balances on that. We only collect the amount of money that the voters approve.”

As for overseeing how the funds are used, VanderYacht said if the bond passes, the district will set up a citizens oversight committee, modeled after Ferndale School District’s.

Charlotte Alden is CDN’s general assignment/enterprise reporter; reach her at; 360-922-3090 ext. 123.

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