Vote yes for all school measures

January 22, 2014

By Administrator

Everyone in Sammamish is going to have a chance to weigh in on school-related tax increases. Residents in both of the city’s two major school districts will have measures on the ballot.

There is no doubt that voters should approve all of the various bond and levy requests on the Feb. 11 ballot arriving in mailboxes this week.

The biggest ticket item is the Lake Washington district proposing a three-quarter of a billion dollar bond. It’s a lot of money, but it’s worth the price. Student populations are growing and will continue to do so. The district doesn’t have the option of saying it’s full, they must have a seat for each student who shows up.

Voters rejected a bond in 2010, but the needs that bond was designed to address haven’t gone away – they’ve intensified.

Beyond Lake Washington’s bond, both districts have levies to support their day-to-day operations. The levies are all replacement levies, while they represent a tax increase, they are not a new tax.

Issaquah’s Maintenance and Operations levy last’s four years and pays about 21 percent of district classroom costs. Lake Washington’s Educational Programs and Operations levy serves the same role and pays 22 percent of that district’s costs.

Those two are, perhaps, the most important of the levy questions, and their passage is most critical to district operations.

Both districts also have a four-year capital levy that seeks technology funds and building repairs. Computer replacement and upgrades are a way of life in today’s world, and maintenance of our school buildings is not an option.

Issaquah voters also have a transportation levy proposed for one year, buying 71 more fuel-efficient school buses with higher safety standards.

Teachers and computers are the foundation of a good education.

Neither the state nor the federal government offers help in funding technology, but few would argue that computers are an unnecessary expense in educating tomorrow’s leaders.

Building repairs may not directly benefit education, but are essential components of district operations.

Everyone in society benefits from quality public schools. Vote yes on all of the bond and levy measures.

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4 Responses to “Vote yes for all school measures”

  1. Anonymous on January 28th, 2014 11:43 am

    If it were just building repairs, renovations and building of new schools in areas that need them, I would support it. But they are wanting to tear down perfectly decent buildings that are less than 50 years old…why? Because the affluent around here only want the newest and brightest for their kids? Anything less is unacceptable? Go to Pittsburgh, Pa and to other cities on the east coast. Somehow they manage to teach kids effectively in 100 year old buildings. What a waste.

  2. Anonymous on January 29th, 2014 7:58 pm

    As a property owner, parent and employee of LWSD I agree with voting no on this levy. A new school will not contribute to student learning. Teachers, instructional aides and school staff are the foundation in schools. I would vote for an increase in property taxes if it meant hiring additional teachers, instructional aides and special education staff. As far as crowding in schools, look at the numbers. Why not rezone the boundaries, even out the enrollment in each school? Where is the money being spent that is already coming out of our taxes? There are other options than voting to accept this levy!!

  3. Anonymous on February 2nd, 2014 12:03 am

    Why do we need to rebuild buildings instead of just renovating and expanding where necessary? Are these school being rebuilt falling apart? It feels like they’re asking for $755,000,000 out of our (combined) property taxes so casually.

    Why is the measure ambiguous on what it would actually cost property owners? The proposition wording is “the exact amount of such annual levies for these bonds would depend on the amount of principal paid each year and on interest rates available at the time the bonds are sold.” Is no estimate given because nearly a billion dollars over 20 years still a non-trivial amount per property per year? Will there be a “phase 4″ 6 years from now? Phase 2 occurred in 2006 and levied $436,000,000 which we’re still paying off.

    (On our property tax bill I wish King County broke out property tax levy items into initiative instead of just lumping them all together under say “State school fund” or “School”—it would be a helpful reminder of what we’re still paying off.)

  4. Susan Wilkins (Redmond) on February 2nd, 2014 12:52 pm

    The Lake Washington School District states that its $755,000,000 bond measure, Prop 3, will cost taxpayers 53 cents per thousand in assessed value. This statement is true for 2015-2018 when only a fraction of the bonds have been sold and the district is collecting only $18 million per year. As all bonds are sold over the next 6 years, the district will collect more and more each year so property taxes will increase substantially.

    The principal ($755,000,000) and interest ($535,000,000) on the 2014 bonds are projected to cost $1.29 Billion (with a B) by the district (interest & payment info obtained through a public records request to the district.) The Lake Washington School District will need to collect an average of $52 million each year from 2019 through 2041 when the bonds are retired. In order to collect $52 million/year, homeowners will be taxed $1.55/thousand – about 3 times the 53 cents the district says it will cost. Take note of how the school district carefully only states what it will cost from 2015 through 2018. Annual taxes from the bonds on a $500,000 house will eventually be $775, not $265.

    This bond measure ignores a growing classroom space shortage across the entire district in all the elementary schools. Sammamish has 5 elementary schools in the Lake Washington boundary. Blackwell, Carson and McAuliffe are at capacity and use 4 portables. Even after the district moved all 6th graders to the middle school, Mead and Smith are severely overcrowded, with each school having over 600 students and 14 additional portables combined. When the state funds all-day kindergarten in 2017-2018, every elementary school will need even more classroom space. Elementary schools in Redmond are all alarmingly packed, too. Everywhere you look, new homes are being built all over Sammamish. New homes mean more students, but Sammamish will not get any new elementary space for the next 8 years.

    Reject Proposition 3 and tell the district to come back in February 2015 with a bond measure that addresses elementary overcrowding at a more reasonable price.

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