“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
– Nelson Mandela
For the first time in our history, we’ve decided to endorse a political issue – we are encouraging all our Readers to vote “YES” on Proposition No. 1 for Highline Schools on Nov. 8.
There is no other mechanism to fund local public school construction, modernization or updates than to vote for this new, voter-approved School Bond measure.
And yes, we admit that we are biased, as we have a very personal stake in this issue – our two children have both been educated at local schools, and our youngest is now a student at the decaying Highline High School.
We strongly believe that education is vital to a community’s health. The more educated a populace is, the better and stronger the community.
But we also know from personal experience how difficult it is to learn in a building that’s literally rotting and falling apart. While in class, our youngest child is continually exposed to mold, falling ceiling tiles, rodents, leaks, cracked and broken windows, a bad heating system and much more (including overcrowding) – it’s not a very good place to learn.
This bond – created by a group of 40 area residents over numerous study sessions – will begin a much needed process of modernization and investment in the infrastructure of our community.
It will ease overcrowding in our schools. Our entire south King County area has experienced strong population growth. There is little evidence to suggest that this growth will not continue in the coming years, given that “Seattle, for the third consecutive year, is among the Top 5 big cities for population growth, according to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau,” as reported in The Seattle Times. It is a logical conclusion that our school district will continue to grow as a result of our proximity to Seattle.
One of the intentions in this bond is to rebuild the 93-year old Highline High School to accommodate between 1500-1700 students. According to the King County Assessor’s Office, that school has a current enrollment of 1384. The projected capacity is reasonable.
This bond is the first in a tiered plan to modernize and strengthen school capital facilities over the next 20 years. It includes funds to begin the design of new and modernized campuses for Tyee and Evergreen High Schools. Given growth projections, now is the time to begin this process. This bond is also eligible for some matching funds, any amount of which is a benefit to the community regardless of size.
All schools across the district are planned to benefit from much-needed new safety and security improvements, including electronic locks on classroom doors and security cameras. Currently, many doors have to be locked from the outside with a key – meaning the teacher has to open the door and exit the room to lock it down.
The small schools concepts currently found at the former Tyee and Evergreen campuses will also receive a variety of upgrades to their science and lab facilities, restrooms and interior surfaces. To make the assertion that the residents in the north end are “getting nothing” from this measure is patently false.
It was created by the community-led Capital Facilities Advisory Committee (CFAC) after a lengthy and thoughtful process, which included a group of 40 citizens and business leaders, the majority of whom were randomly selected from a pool of 200 applicants. The committee even included individuals who had vocally opposed the last two bond attempts. The opportunity to voice concerns and desires has been given, with issues of equity and affordability, given debate and address. The committee prioritized the greatest need and moved to address those first. This $299 million bond proposal is approximately 29% lower that the bond presented two years ago, which bore a $385 million price tag.
For the majority of homeowners, this is actually an affordable bond. According to The King County Assessors Office, the average assessed value of homes in the Highline School District for the 2016 tax year is approximately $282,000. The district estimates that the bond will add .79 to current property taxes. This means the average homeowner will experience an annual increase of $222.78. While it is true that families with above average home values will pay more, it is not true to suggest that this bond will create an enormous tax burden for most homeowners or renters.
Everyone needs a “rainy day fund,” and this bond replenishes the emergency fund which is projected to be exhausted in 2017-18.This fund covers critical needs and emergency repairs.
A bond measure builds schools, and by law funds can only be used for the construction and related costs. A much-encouraged “Yes” vote on this bond is an endorsement of our community’s investment in our future – our children. It should not be confused with an endorsement of current school policies, including controversial ones. Voters should move consciously to distinguish the difference between these two issues. Those who are concerned about policy decisions must remain engaged, voice concerns and demand accountability. Children and our greater community are the losers when we confuse these issues and relegate them to crowded, unsafe, outdated classrooms and schools.
Like during previous school bond election seasons, there’s a LOT of misinformation being spread by those who are against schools. We encourage all citizens to question these claims, ask for sources, and (like a good student) DO YOUR HOMEWORK.
- Voter-approved bonds (like this) are the only way to build and improve schools. Bonds like this are not affiliated with staff salaries.
- If property values rise, tax rates decrease, so the dollar amount property owners pay remains the same. The district does not receive a windfall if property values go up.
- School bonds are financed over 20 years, and must overlap to keep up with instructional needs, growth and security.
- This bond will reduce important issues like overcrowding and safety issues, while keeping future costs down for taxpayers.
- Voting down another bond not only hurts our kids – it affects our entire region – and will cost taxpayers (and the community) more in the long run.
To pass, this measure requires a 60% majority – so please…VOTE YES!
“When I was a boy on the Mississippi River there was a proposition in a township there to discontinue public schools because they were too expensive. An old farmer spoke up and said if they stopped building the schools they would not save anything, because every time a school was closed a jail had to be built.”