School Bond

School Bond Information
Posted on 09/26/2023
Aerial view of school with proposed expansion




Art class on the stage
Art classes forced to meet on the stage

The Hood Canal School District wants to make sure that its students receive educational programs and opportunities at least on par with neighboring districts. But, that's not possible right now due to a significant lack of facilities. On November 7, voters in the Hood Canal School District will vote on a bond to expand the school to meet the needs of its students and ensure they receive the education they deserve while creating capacity for growth.

Hood Canal School lacks science, art, project, and music rooms. Classes must be taught on the stage and small groups are sometimes led in busy workrooms. Historically, Hood Canal preschool program have had to turn away families due to a lack of space. Their deteriorating 70-year-old transportation center limits their ability to safely service buses and creates safety issues being located so close to the school. In addition, Hood Canal has minimal playground equipment and numerous accessibility issues.

Transportation building
    Safety issues with 70-year-old deteriorating transportation building

Preschool playground
      Minimal preschool playground is not ADA accessible

The good news is that Hood Canal's capital debt is paid off and they have the lowest school tax rate in the region. However, Hood Canal students are missing out on things other schools in our region take for granted, simply because of the lack of space and facilities. This $33.5 million bond keeps tax rates near the lowest in the region while addressing these critical needs and investing in the community's future through:

  • An addition in front of the school with two preschool classrooms and exclusive playground to serve little ones with disabilities and those waitlisted, plus a school library with project spaces for hands-on learning and technology.
  • A middle school addition including an art classroom, outdoor education hub, and flexible classroom spaces supporting hands-on project-based teaching of life skills, career exploration, science, and future student and program growth. This will also open up space for a new performing arts program and use of the stage for productions.
  • A bus maintenance and transportation center with greater capacity relocated away from the main school to safely support all our students in our geographically spread-out district.
  • Safety and wheelchair accessibility improvements on the playground and around entrances.
Bond project areas photo
The proposed bond supports many new features for the school
  1. Two preschool classrooms
  2. ADA accessible preschool playground
  3. Visual and Performing Arts Spaces
  4. Larger library with project space
  5. Science Lab
  6. Engineering/Technology Project Lab
  7. Outdoor Classroom
  8. Flexible/Small Group Instruction Areas
  9. ADA accessible K-8 playground with expanded covered areas
  10. Athletic equipment and maintenance storage
  11. Bus loop
  12. Transportation Facility
Front of school building
    New library and early learning center, front of the school

Additional features may be added based on community, family, students and staff input during the design phase, depending on budget capacity.

This bond is a vital commitment to the current and future students of Hood Canal School and this wonderful community. A similar proposal was on the ballot in February 2022 and failed to pass by less than 80 votes. Now voters have the opportunity to reconsider this proposal with additional information and details. Ballots should arrive by October 20, but residents can register to vote anytime until right before ballots are due on November 7.


Total Bond: $33.5 million

Goal of the Bond: To meet the needs of Hood Canal students and ensure they receive educational programs and opportunities on par with our neighboring districts while creating capacity for growth.

Current Hood Canal Local School Tax: Lowest in Mason County at $0.72 per $1,000 of assessed value for bonds & levies combined; less than half of the next lowest district and among the lowest in the state
Proposed Rate: $1.70 per $1,000 of assessed value for the current levy PLUS the new bond - second lowest in Mason County
Tax Impact: Roughly $1 per $1,000 of home value (e.g., $400 for a $400K home, which is just over $1 per day)

What problems are we trying to solve?
Currently, Hood Canal students miss out on many educational opportunities that most schools and students take for granted. Here are some of our specific challenges:

  1. Lack of science, art, music rooms, or flexible lab spaces (robotics, engineering, video, etc.).
  2. Lack of preschool space: Students historically turned away
  3. Growing student population with more projected
  4. Increased space demands to serve students with disabilities
  5. More classrooms needed to maintain reasonable class sizes
  6. Minimal playground facilities, not ADA compliant
  7. Deteriorating transportation building and unsafe pickup area

What NEW facilities are included with the bond?
The proposed bond will support the following new features for the school:

  1. Two preschool classrooms (~50% students with disabilities)
  2. ADA accessible preschool playground
  3. Visual and Performing Arts Spaces
  4. Larger library with project space
  5. Science Lab
  6. Engineering/Technology Project Lab
  7. Outdoor Classroom
  8. Flexible/Small Group Instruction Areas
  9. ADA accessible K-8 playground with expanded covered areas
  10. Athletic equipment and maintenance storage
  11. Bus loop
  12. Transportation Facility

Additional features may be added based on community, family, students and staff input during the design phase, depending on budget capacity.

What is STEAM?
You may have seen our new building referred to as a "STEAM" building. This does not mean it is steam powered. STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics and emphasizes hands-on project-based learning. It is similar to the word, STEM, but adds the arts (A). This term is used to describe the types of engaging educational programs and facilities that will be part of the proposed addition.

Does the bond include the cost of equipment and furniture for the new facilities?
Yes. The costs for furniture and equipment (including technology) are part of the overall cost of the bond.

How does this plan connect with your acclaimed outdoor education program?
It will strongly enhance this program. The bond includes the creation of an outdoor classroom as well as science lab space to study, test, and research outside elements, materials, and principles. It also gives students hands-on experience with local jobs like forestry, fishing, parks, marine biology, etc.

Will you hire a performing arts teacher once the new facility is done?
That is our plan, yes. We know this is a huge gap in what we offer students at Hood Canal. We would hope to offer performing arts for all students in grades K-5 and as an option in grades 6-8, but we know this is impossible without the space to support it.

How was this proposal developed?
By listening to families, community members, staff, and students about what they saw missing in our school. Many focused on what neighboring schools offer and Hood Canal students are missing. A facilities committee with community members and staff developed the proposed scope for the bond based on input and submitted it to the School Board for approval. Architects helped develop some conceptual drawings and reliable cost estimates based on the proposed scope. This is now going before voters for their consideration.

Are the drawings and pictures of the proposed bond what the school will actually look like?
Probably not. These are just conceptual drawings to help develop a budget and scope for the bond. Once the bond passes, architects will be selected and will gather input from the community, families, students, and staff to help inform the final design.

When would the new facilities be completed?
We estimate the project would be complete by fall of 2026.

Will this bring more students to Hood Canal?
Based on what we've heard from families choosing other options, this is a strong possibility. Having a music program and other options that are considered “standard” in neighboring schools will help make Hood Canal more attractive to families. The additional space gives us capacity for growth to offer new programs. For example, our addition of a Transitional Kindergarten class this year has already attracted families from other schools.

What is the capacity for the current school?
As originally designed, the school could theoretically serve over 400 students. However, since that time, the requirement for additional classrooms to serve students with disabilities (currently three rooms), the requirement for full-day kindergarten, class size reduction, addition of preschool, and more has exceeded the available number of classrooms in the building. As a result, we cannot offer music classes, lack lab spaces, and currently offer art classes on the stage (which cannot be used as a stage).

Why do you need a new transportation facility?
Currently, our school buses have to pick up students on the playground, creating safety issues. With a new science, tech and arts building behind the school, the buses could no longer drive behind the school. Picking up in front of the school requires a new bus loop where the deteriorating 70+ year-old bus barn is currently. Building a new transportation facility would allow the district to save maintenance and operational costs with better equipment and allow the district to sell its services to other districts through a cooperative. This would also make the district eligible for $5 million in state match dollars for the new building.

Does the project estimate include a contingency for increased costs?
Yes. The estimates developed by architects for this project take into account annual escalation in construction costs, which can be significant, as well as a solid contingency to address any unforeseen conditions. This is to ensure we can deliver on all of the commitments included in the proposal.

When do ballots go out and when is election day?
Ballots should be in the mail by October 20, 2023 and are due by election day on November 7, 2023.

How many votes does the district need to pass the bond?
60% of taxpayers in the district would need to vote “yes” to pass the bond. The last time we ran the bond, it received over 56% of the vote and failed by 57 votes.

Can I still register to vote?
Yes! You can register to vote up until right before the election, but we recommend that you do so as soon as possible if you haven’t already.

How does the proposed tax rate compare with what we’ve paid historically?
Over the past 10 years, the average local school tax rate in Hood Canal has been $2.22 per $1,000 of assessed value. The proposed bond and current levy combined would be $1.70 or $0.52 below the historical average.

My home’s assessed value went way up, does that mean the district is collecting more money?
No. The district collects the same amount of money through levies and bonds regardless of assessed value. As assessed values go up, the tax rate goes down so that it generates the same dollar amount either way.

Why are the tax rates in this FAQ lower than those on the ballot?
The rate on the ballot was an estimate based on an estimated 4% growth in assessed value. After that information was submitted to the County Auditor for the ballot, we learned that assessed values in our district will increase by 15.8%. As a result, this will drive down our rates per $1,000. This is because the district collects the same dollar amount through levies and bonds, regardless of assessed values. Rates go down when assessed values go up.

How does the proposed tax rate compare with districts in our area?
Hood Canal’s local school tax rate is less than half the rate of any other district in Mason County. After passing the bond, it would still be the second lowest in the county.

Chart of Mason Count School Tax Rate Comparison

What are all of the school taxes on my tax statement?
"State School PT 1" and "State School PT 2" are the taxes the state collects to fund schools statewide. This is what funds “basic education” in our state and in Hood Canal. These taxes are determined by the state, not our district or local taxpayers. “School” is our local levy that funds operational costs and programs beyond the bare minimum funded by the state.

In prior years, you may have seen additional local school taxes on your statement. These would have been for the bond that funded the current building (paid off in 2021) and a special capital projects levy that paid mainly for our district’s portion of the new Shelton High School that serves our students. The capital projects levy ended in 2022. Both of these taxes have now expired, which is why local Hood Canal school taxes are the lowest in Mason County and among the lowest in the state.

Is our school building paid off?
Yes. Our current school building opened in 2007 and the bonds for that construction were fully paid in 2021. We no longer owe anything on the existing facility. As a result, the bond did not show up on tax statements in 2022 or 2023.

How long will it take to pay off this new bond?
This is a 21 year bond, but we expect it to be paid off in 20 years. That means the bond would run through 2044.

Who owns the land the school is on?
Hood Canal School is located on Skokomish Reservation land that was generously sold to the District for less than $100 (essentially donated) by Skokomish families to support the construction of a consolidated school to serve the children in our community. As such, the district now has legal ownership of the land, but honors its rich Skokomish history and heritage.

What is a bond, and how is it different from a levy?
Bonds are for Building. Levies are for Learning. Bonds are for new school construction and renovation of buildings, including major repairs and improvements. Bonds are voter-approved debt. Money from local property taxes is used to pay back the debt over time. Per state law, money from this fund cannot be transferred to other funds or used for unrelated purchases. Bonds require 60% voter approval and levies require 50% voter approval. Levies support the daily education of our students.

Why don’t you just put in portables?
Portables are generally a short-term solution and cost about $350,000 per room without running water or bathrooms. They lack the safety of being connected to the main building and are generally undersized for our proposed uses. They also take up more physical space on the campus since they must be spread out and are only one story high.

Why don’t you just pay for this out of the district’s operating budget?
Hood Canal’s operating budget is less than $8 million and pays for our existing staff, supplies, and services for students. Our reserves for emergencies are about $1 million or less than 2 months operating costs. There is no way to fund the $33.5 million needed for this project out of our operating budget.

Who are the Citizens for the Support of Hood Canal School?
This is a group of families, staff, and community members supporting the passage of Hood Canal bonds and levies. This group is independent of the school district.

Why not send the middle schoolers to Shelton?
We’re not sure this is even a possibility. However, if it were, it would gut the program offerings at the school and possibly make operation unsustainable without enough students to support it. It would also add another school transition for middle school students at a difficult developmental time and increase bus rides for many of our students to 3 hours per day (90 min each way). It’s also worth noting that Hood Canal School resides on Skokomish Reservation land donated by Tribe members specifically to create a local school to serve their children before high school. Sending the middle schoolers to Shelton would be extremely disrespectful of this generous contribution and Native families that represent almost 50% of our student population.

Why don’t we just merge with Shelton?
This is an exceedingly complex and lengthy proposition. District solidation in our state is rare because it takes away the unique identity of the school district as well as local control. It is also worth noting that merging with Shelton could increase local school tax rates for Hood Canal taxpayers by 400% due to the much heavier tax burden in that district.

What happens if the bond doesn’t pass?
Hood Canal students will continue to miss out on learning opportunities that students in neighboring districts receive and take for granted. The District could choose to put the bond back out to taxpayers for a third vote. Construction costs are currently increasing faster than inflation. Should the district need to rerun the bond, the same design would likely cost taxpayers quite a bit more to keep up with rising construction costs.