School district plans for levy on February ballots


Blaine school board discussed plans to include a maintenance and operations levy and potentially a capital bond measure in the February 2024 special election during its August 28 meeting. 

The four-year maintenance and operations levy funds day-to-day expenses and would replace the levy passed in February 2020. The new levy would be the same amount as the expiring one and only requires a simple majority to pass.

The capital bond would support projects focused on Blaine Middle School construction, Performing Arts Center (PAC) upgrades and smaller improvements throughout the district. The district is considering the bond to be around $56 million.

“We’re trying to do our best to stay within the current tax rate,” superintendent Christopher Granger said. 

A task force of 14 district staff, parents and community members has been reviewing school facilities since February to determine the district’s priority projects and if there was need for a capital bond or levy. Granger and finance director Amber Porter presented the task force recommendations to the school board during the August 28 meeting. 

The task force determined capital funding first needed to address Blaine Middle School, through construction, security improvement and PAC enhancements. Pipeline Fields was next on the task force’s list, with adding running water to restrooms and upgrading the softball and baseball areas. 

HVAC, mechanical and electrical work is also needed across the district, as well as lighting and playground improvements at Point Roberts Primary School, according to the task force. 

The task force also recommended long-term projects that would be less urgent, such as construction of a Birch Bay elementary school, upgrades to Blaine Elementary School, transportation facility upgrades or relocation, and a district office expansion. 

“We don’t want to send the message that there’s never going to be a Birch Bay Elementary because I don’t think that’s the intention,” Granger said. “Just right now might not make the most sense as enrollment isn’t what it was and the middle school has the highest need and would serve all students in the district.”

Board member Don Leu said he didn’t want to shortchange the middle school upgrades that he could see lasting decades. Board member Dougal Thomas said he was afraid the district would promise more projects than it could afford if construction costs increased.

“This is what we’re hoping we can do, but once rubber meets the road, it may not be all of these things,” Thomas said. 

Porter said there were still cost unknowns, but middle school construction, the largest project, would provide a lot of cost

The district typically puts its levies on ballots during the February special election, which Leu was concerned may not get a strong turnout. Porter said levies have not been passing as well in the past year and other school districts are expected to have levies in the February election. 

“It may not be the right economy, but it is a right time,” Porter said.

The school board is expected to vote on whether to officially approve the district putting the replacement maintenance and operations levy and capital bond on ballots during its September or October meeting. The board will likely vote on the task force recommendations this fall.

School board members also unanimously approved the 2023-24 school budget, which will cut about $3.5 million in spending from last year and eliminate about 60 positions. Reductions are slated to reduce the year-end deficit to $2.1 million and leave the district with a $2.5 million general fund balance.

To review the task force recommendations, visit 

This article was updated September 1 to correct information regarding the maintenance and operations levy. The levy needs a simple majority to pass. We regret the error.


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