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Impact fees pay to build new schools, right?

Forest View Elementary School. Photo courtesy of Everett Public Schools.
Forest View Elementary School. Photo courtesy of Everett Public Schools.

From an Everett Public Schools News Release.

No. Impact fees only cover a very small portion of the full cost of new schools or new classroom space.

This fact was clear on October 20th when the school board received mitigation fees resulting from a 25-unit, new, single-family development in the district’s southern region.

The amount? $53,741 – just about enough to cover one third of the cost of a new portable classroom.

Demographers calculate that 25 new, single-family homes could add 14 new students in the district. That’s 14 students who might be scattered in kindergarten through high school. If those students were all at one grade or at one school, they would about fill half of a portable classroom.

Last summer the district bought and installed 16 portable classrooms for schools in the central and southern portions of the district. Crews set the portables in place to meet this fall’s enrollment increase. At approximately $160,000 each, the 16 portables cost a total of $2,560,000.

“We are very grateful to receive mitigation and impact fees,” said Executive Director of Facilities and Operations Mike Gunn. Gunn noted the fees are sometimes called ‘mitigation’ fees and sometimes called ‘impact’ fees. “Whatever the name, they are essentially the same,” he said.

 “Developers pay different rates of fees based upon in which county or city jurisdiction their developments lie. For this district, the fees range from a low of about $900 per unit to a high of about $5,000.”

Gunn acknowledged the irony evident in those numbers. The latest fee collection of $53,741 for 25 units in the southern part of the district is not at the high end of the collection scale – for a development in an area that is growing fastest and where the schools are most crowded.

The laws require developers to pay a small portion of new school costs,” Gunn emphasized. But the bulk of the cost for new schools comes from the residents of that school district. Owners of the newly developed properties also help pay those costs once they begin living here.

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Details ...

$2,256,000 divided by 16 is precisely $160,000 per portable, not "approximately $160,000."

$53,741 is just slightly more than one-third of the cost of a portable classroom, not "just about enough."

Everett Public Schools calculations:

Total Students May 2014 = 19.157, Total classroom teachers = 938, or 20.4 students per teacher.

Adjusting for specialty teachers like band, choir,shop, etc., the actual classroom sizes are probably higher for the core course being taught in the portables.

My granddaughter has never had less than 26 students in her classes over the past eight years. I will use 26 students per classroom.

14 students added = 0.538 of a portable classroom = $86,080.

This would suggest that mitigation fees only cover about 62.4% of their allocated costs for the portable. There is nothing here for covering the other costs including a teacher's salary or other miscellaneous expenses.

It sounds like we need to raise the impact fees to me. Of course, that means the price of the house or dwelling will probably be increased to cover it, but fair is fair.

Impact fees....

Other communities in other states have have much higher impact fees.