Tacoma schools asking voters to approve $500 million bond measure

TACOMA, Wash. -- Parents in the Tacoma School District say schools are falling apart and putting their health at risk.

The district says it has received 29 complaints of poor air and mold. The district is now turning to voters for a change.

At Stewart Middle School, a knobless closet is matted with mold. Walls pucker from busted pipes. And when it rains, it pours inside.

"In the rainy season, we tend to have a lot of leaks indoors," said Janet Gates-Cortez.

The district estimates the 88-year-old school needs $58 million in repairs.

And Stewart isn't alone. Across the district, officials say 14 schools need major repairs or complete remodel. But those fixes come with a big price tag.

"It's a $500 million bond measure," said Don Voelpel of the Tacoma School District

The district says the key to student success is for voters to unlock money by approving the bond in February.

"The cost to the average homeowner is about $60 a year, or $2.95 a month, above what it would take to just keep the schools running and functioning," said Voelpel.

The district says 30 percent of its students in high school drop out, and new facilities will boost enrollment district.

Similar construction bond measures have failed in 2006 and 2009. A preliminary vote is scheduled for next week. A final vote is set for Feb. 12.