Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Opinion: Vote No on LWSD Bond, By Paige Norman

Lake Washington School District Levy and Bond vote – OPINION 
I have posted four detailed blog entries regarding the upcoming LWSD Levy and Bond issues for vote on February 11th, 2014.  They can be found here.

 This chart gives just a few examples of how poorly the district has managed and planned for student capacity and growth over the last few years.  8 Elementary schools are “Over permanent capacity” and all but one school (Mann Elementary) has portables to house over-population of students.  Read More >> 
 Phase 1 of the modernization program that began in 1998 and lists completion in 2006 replaced or rebuilt Audubon, Franklin, Juanita, Lakeview, Mann, Rose Hill, Thoreau and Twain Elementary schools; Kirkland and Redmond Junior High Schools (now middle schools); and Redmond High School.

Phase 2 replaced or rebuilt Frost, Muir, Keller, Sandburg, Bell, and Rush Elementary schools; Rose Hill, Finn Hill and Northstar Middle School; and Lake Washington High School.

The current Bond and Levy issues affect the funding for what is called Phase 3 which includes building three new elementary schools, one new middle school, one new STEM school and an “International” school.  There are also many overlapping projects proposed that involve schools recently modernized or rebuilt by adding portables or additional structures to those buildings; namely, Lake Washington and Eastlake High Schools.

The bond will also replace 6 schools; Juanita High School, Kamiakin and Evergreen Middle schools and Kirk, Rockwell and Mead Elementary schools.

This is not the first time that projects have necessitated additional funding due to population issues in the District.  Redmond High School was originally built in 1964; demolished and rebuilt during the LWSD modernization process (Phase 2) in 2003.  An additional construction project was completed in 2012 and added 30,000 s.f. of space including an auxiliary gym addition, a classroom addition and two portable buildings.  Between that completion time of 2012 and today’s current date (January 2014) there have been an additional two portable classrooms added to the Redmond High School campus.  As mentioned here the 2003 construction cost was $50.5 million and the project in 2012 an additional $1.4 million.

Horace Mann Elementary (Phase 1) was destroyed and rebuilt with students attending classes in the new facilities Fall 2003.  It was built with no additional classrooms – in fact, two fewer classrooms than the original building accommodated.

Redmond Middle School – formerly Redmond Jr. High (Phase 1) presently has three portables on site after being demolished and rebuilt in 2002.

These are just three examples in my neighborhood alone of schools that have been rebuilt and are now over capacity within just 10 years of completion; yet the district states that their modernization program is to plan for 30 to 40 years per building usage.

Lake Washington High School was rebuilt under Phase 2; and students moved into the buildings in September 2011.  Under the proposed Bond funding, Lake Washington High School will be receiving an addition to the 2011 buildings.

For the purposes of planning, the District assumes that a new single-family home currently generates 0.3810 elementary students, 0.1170 middle school students, and 0.0950 senior high students, for a total of 0.593 school-age child per single family home.  New multi-family housing units currently generate an average of 0.0490 elementary student, 0.0140 middle school student, and 0.0160 senior high student for a total of 0.0790 school age child per multi-family home.

Granted, many residences in Redmond have no children; however the theory that there is, in total, less than 1 complete school-age child per single family home (average) in our district is absurd.  In our neighborhood of roughly 30 houses, I can round up at least 15 children that are school age; with another 10 or so children that are infant to four years old.  Many families have more than two children and there are a great number of families that share living spaces, which increases the number of school-age children in any given neighborhood or multi-family location.

It is beyond my comprehension that a district, so widely acknowledged as successful and competitive can have such poor planning, organizational and math skills that they find themselves constantly ‘begging’ for money from taxpayers in multiple attempts to make our children “future ready”.

I will not attempt to admit that I understand the budgeting and accounting processes of our district or many of the governmental agencies that fund our educational system.  I have not reviewed or scrutinized the general or other funds and accounts that the district maintains.  I am only offering an opinion on what seems to be an unending cycle of inattention to detail and lack of planning for the future.

And so, once again the district wants the taxpayer to foot the bill for yet more incompetence and lack of planning so they can construct more buildings that will be over capacity in less than one-third of their life cycle.  I wonder how the Lake Washington School District plans to educate the children of the 20,000 residents that will be moving into all the new construction projects showing up all over the city of Redmond; not to mention Kirkland and other cities in the district boundaries.

Vote NO on February 11th for the Levy and Bond issues.  Over-crowding of our schools is not the only problem to be addressed here.  Perhaps the District should take their own motto into consideration and make all of our school buildings “future ready”.


Anonymous said...

Proposition 3 is contrived to enable the district to continue their inequitable and wasteful practice of rebuilding selected schools and leaving the rest substandard until it's their turn to be replaced. If you’re willing to spend 238 million to provide more classrooms you have to approve spending an additional 517 million to rebuild 6 more of our newest existing buildings and add 2 more small boutique schools. This is coercive. We should have been given two proposals. The district could still do so if proposition 3 fails and they haven’t developed a more rational facilities plan.

MButler said...

Please Vote Yes, Yes and Yes on the Ballot

Dear Paige,

While the use of facts and statistics in your argument may illustrate poor planning and decisions made by the District and Board in the past, I believe it is misguided to use these PAST statistics to assess the proposed school improvement plan put forward by the current District administration and school board. The proposed plan of adding new schools and modernizing others does a reasonable job of addressing the astounding enrollment growth that we have seen in the Education Hill and Plateau areas. Is it perfect? Of course not, but we must look forward and do what is best given the current state of the school infrastructure.

After you cast your “no” vote, I urge you to visit Rockwell, Rosa Parks, Redmond Middle, Evergreen Middle, and Alcott to name a few. And please apologize to all of the students and teachers housed in those awful portables that are inadequately heated and cooled, lack running water, and have no bathroom facilities. While you are there, consider that during a school wide lockdown, these students and teachers are “stranded and isolated” away from staff and safety personnel in the school office.

The current District administration and Board are doing the right thing for current and future students. Is it enough? Will they have to come back again for more money because they underestimated the growth? Maybe. But life is a moving target. And I believe the proposed plan is moving us in the right direction.

I’m voting Yes, Yes, and Yes on my ballot,
Minerva Butler
Rockwell Elementary and Redmond Middle Schools Parent

Anonymous said...

Please vote YES, YES, YES

I agree 100% with Minerva. Whatever difference of opinion you may have with the District and whether they managed things accurately/correctly, by voting No, you are punishing our children and hurting them - not the district. It is our children and our future that count on the proper facilities (both for a proper education and safety). And for us to decide to take that away from them because you disagree with District planning, is unfair and misplaced. We can continue to point the finger at the State (for inadequate funding), poor city planning and developer, etc. Yet the fact remains that our children and our future our counting on us to do the right thing.

My vote is Yes, Yes, Yes!
Ellie O'Rourke
Rockwell Elementary Parent and Legislative Advocate