Where were all the no voters?

August 13, 2014

By Staff

In the past year, voters in the Lake Washington School District twice rejected proposed bonds to help pay for needed school improvements. The reasons were many, but they boiled down to voters not trusting the district to spend the money efficiently.
Last week, when the district held its public hearing on the annual budget, there was not one single comment from the public.
Naysayers, where were you?
It’s a common phenomenon, really. People look at their tax bill and imagine a hundred different ways the government must be mismanaging tax dollars.
Yet, when budget time rolls around, they are nowhere to be seen. Here was your chance, folks. If you truly don’t think the district spends wisely, where better to change that than through the budget hearing?
For example, people complained about a top-heavy administration, but did not complain when the district added two director-level positions, as part of a total of 63 new positions, none of which are classroom teachers.
The documents are all there. District staff is and has always been willing and able to answer questions. If there is such waste, surely it’s worth the time to look through the budget, find it and tell the school board what it is.
Perhaps people did the work. Perhaps they reviewed the budget, as did this newspaper, and determined the spending was worthwhile and the positions were needed. But if that’s the case, then why oppose the bond measures?
What’s more likely is that people said no to new taxes, but don’t want to take on the harder job of figuring out what they should say yes to.
If people really want to see change in the way the schools work, they need to remain engaged during the nitty-gritty work (or maybe run for office – there were no contested races in last year’s Lake Washington School Board election, even though one was for an open seat), and not just show up for the big events.
People who say no when the district asks for money owe it to the district to explain what they should do instead. The budget hearing was their chance, and they blew it.

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3 Responses to “Where were all the no voters?”

  1. john burg on August 18th, 2014 4:18 pm

    Perhaps you should consider that a budget review is not the dame as raising taxes for 855 million in new schools when we are seeing our property taxes increase over the past five years by over 20 per cent while tax valuations went down.

    I am sorry to inform you the LWSD is one of the richest districts in the state. And the schools they build are very nice.
    However, most of the taxpayers got through their k12 years when learning something in an older school was not a problem.

  2. Administrator on August 19th, 2014 10:00 am

    The budget is not the same, that’s true, but people had a chance to do something, or to do nothing. They chose to do nothing.
    The vast majority of those tax hikes were voter approved. Localities can only raise taxes by 1 percent.
    And now, which is far more relevant than what was happening 20 or 40 or however many years ago, old classrooms don’t cut the mustard.

  3. Karl Burtram on August 20th, 2014 11:46 pm

    On the point that previous tax increases are voter approved, perhaps those previously approved hikes as partially the reason these two were voter rejected. If voter approval justifies those taxes then surely voter rejection justifies the prevention of further tax increases.

    I voted against the first bond because the amount of money requested was way too much. I voted against the second bond since it wasn’t equitable. Why should I pay for a palatial high school in Juanita Beach, yet do next to nothing to address the crowding and aging schools in Sammamish? How about come back with a reasonably sized bond proposal the fairly helps the entire district?

    I didn’t attend the budget meeting since I consider this routine district business and not particularly relevant to the problems I had with the ballet measures.

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