Friday, March 4, 2016

Please vote "yes" for the April 2016 School Bond Measure

As a 33 year resident and parent living on a fixed income on Education Hill, my wife and I had a hard time stomaching the one billion dollar 2014 combined school bond measures -- even if it meant our house would increase in value. We were very concerned about our property taxes drastically going up and the district's record of building posh schools.  Of course our schools were seriously overcrowded in 2014. Today, overcrowding has reached crisis levels.      

When Superintendent Pierce announced the $398 million April 2016 bond measure we found it digestible and our concerns about property taxes and expensive schools were addressed, as follows:  1) The measure will maintain 2015 tax rates! 2) Seven principles for designing practical, cost effective schools will be implemented.  And yes, the severe overcrowding will be tackled by building three new schools with increased capacity AND rebuilds/enlargements at Juanita HS, Mead, and Kirkland Elementary Schools -- all for the price of $398 million. 

Eric Campbell -- a Kirkland parent and developer -- described the District's 7 principles for building practical, cost effective schools at a recent Education Hill neighborhood meeting.  Some of the highlights:  1) the district will save money by eliminating or minimizing 1-story designs, 2) aesthetics will be pleasing but not based on Award-winning architectural designs. and 3) buildings will be designed in a more compact manner i.e box/cube.  New schools will be cost-effective and practical while providing teachers and students the space they need to learn and thrive!

If you'd like an added "push" this April, the measure calls for a new elementary school in North Redmond that is expected to reduce morning and dismissal traffic congestion on 166th Avenue (since many of the Rockwell students will go to the new school.)  Also, if the proposed Middle School on Redmond Ridge is built, some traffic mitigation is likely on the Avondale corridor. 

Please vote "yes" on the April 2016 Bond measure!

Bob Yoder

1 comment:

Paul Hall said...

As a retired school architect and planner I strongly support comfortable and up-to-date educational facilities.  I oppose Proposition1 because it leaves thousands of kids and their teachers in overcrowded schools and substandard buildings for years more than needed and would spend over $235M of the $398M to needlessly tear down and replace more buildings instead of providing for growth.

These bonds provide virtually no money to enlarge our many overcrowded schools. None to modernize our many substandard buildings. More money would be spent to replace Juanita HS and 2 Elementary Schools than for new buildings to absorb growth. Tens of millions more than enough to build twice as many new elementary and middle schools for growth and enlarge those 3 buildings instead of replacing them.

Our buildings are structurally sound and relatively new with scores of useful years remaining. The district’s estimates showed that the cost of major renovation would have been a fraction of the cost of replacement, yet almost $600M in bonds we approved for modernization was spent to replace them instead. The district kept replacing them years after projecting growth instead of providing new schools and enlarging others to handle incoming students.

Overcrowded schools and thousands left in deteriorating substandard buildings was predictable. We would have been well served if the School Board had assembled an unbiased team of independent experts in school design and planning to analyze district facilities management and recommend reasonable ways to repair its damage. Instead they hired experts in PR to aid a district led Public Opinion Task Force for advice.
Space and means has been found to house new students in spite of our rejection of previous proposals to rebuild more schools. There's more underutilized space and options to house even more. There’s plenty of time for the board to reconsider its wasteful agenda of replacing buildings in lieu of modernization.

These hundreds of millions won’t improve overcrowding and poor housing conditions for up to 5 years. Our kids and teachers deserve relief much sooner. In their best interests we need to reject Proposition1 and urge the board to quickly develop a more effective plan for handling growth and better stewardship of our valuable assets.

Paul Hall, AIA, Emeritus