Kennewick School District

Voter Approved Bonds Validated; Kennewick School District to Construct Five New Schools

After the county auditor failed to provide notice of election for a school bond construction measure, the Kennewick School District sought judicial validation to affirm voter support for new schools. 

On February 10, 2015, voters in the Kennewick School District approved $89.5 million in bonds to finance five new schools and District wide health, safety and educational improvements.  Unfortunately, just prior to issuing the bonds, the county notified the District that the auditor had inadvertently failed to publish a statutory election notice in a local newspaper. 

Although the lack of published notice did not change the election’s result (highest voter turnout in a District special election since 2009, and 64.55 percent voter approval), the simple notice error clouded the entire election results.  The District was unable to issue the bonds.  The five new schools were in jeopardy. 

The Courts

Using the state’s judicial bond validation statute, Foster Pepper helped the District bring an expedited action in Benton County Superior Court to validate the election, the voter approved $89.5 million bond measure, and the bonds themselves.  The Court upheld the election, and validated the bonds.  From the date of case filing to entry of judgment, the case took only 35 calendar days.

Thereafter, the District issued the bonds and is now constructing the two new middle schools and three new elementary schools to help alleviate significant overcrowding (the District currently uses 119 portable classrooms). 

Foster Pepper is pleased to have represented Kennewick School District as bond counsel with respect to the issuance of the bonds and special counsel regarding this judicial bond validation proceeding.  We have served as the District’s bond and special counsel since 2007. 

Kennewick School District

Located in the Tri-Cities (Kennewick, Pasco and Richland), Kennewick School District is the 17th largest district in Washington.  The District operates 28 different school sites, including pre-, elementary, middle, high, and choice options (alternative) schools.  53.2 percent of the District’s students qualify for free or reduced-priced meals (as of October 1, 2014).  The District served 2,139 bi-lingual students during the 2013-14 school year.  Kennewick schools have won 25 Washington Achievement Awards since 2009.