LWSD bond and levies: Let’s educate ourselves before casting our votes | Letter

I’ve noticed that there are a few reasons that come up over and over again when folks explain why they do not support the upcoming ballot measures. As a community member that supports the LWSD bond and levies, I’d like to address those reasons. When it comes to funding education, let’s educate ourselves before casting our votes:

1.”LWSD is wasteful/is using our tax dollars inefficiently. They need to use what they have more efficiently.”

LWSD is one of the fastest growing school districts in the area – adding about 700 students PER YEAR for each of the last seven years. The only way you continue to provide the same high-quality education when your student enrollment is increasing by that many students a year, is to manage your resources efficiently. In 2010 and 2014 voters did not pass bonds – bond measures were attempted twice in 2014. That meant no new schools or additions to existing schools. Yet since 2010, LWSD has grown by roughly 5,500 students. The 2016 bond passed, allowing the district to add space for 3,000 students. The 2018 bond – if it passes – will add space for an additional 2,100 students. In the meantime, the district has added portable classrooms, implemented boundary changes and moved to a four-year high school model in an effort to minimize the impact of the overcrowding on our students. They also convened a 63-person Long Term Facilities Planning Task Force to seek input and feedback from our communities in order to come up with a cost-efficient, long term plan to address overcrowding. This bond is a part of that plan. So yes, LWSD is being careful and efficient with the dollars we give them. They don’t have much wiggle room (pun intended) so they’re forced to be.

2.”I am on a fixed income and am going to be priced out of Redmond soon if we have to pay more taxes.”

This is a valid concern and I am sympathetic to the plight of these homeowners. There are tax-exemption programs available to help seniors, veterans and disabled home owners who are struggling to afford a property tax increase. For more info, please visit: https://www.kingcounty.gov/depts/assessor/Forms.aspx

3.”The state is fully funding basic education now. Why does LWSD want more money? Isn’t this ‘double dipping’?”

Sadly, what the state considers “basic education” is far from adequate. Did you know that funding for building/remodeling schools is not currently included in “basic education”? Did you know that PE teachers, music teachers, librarians and substitute teachers are not included either? Also not included are programs like special education, safety net, highly capable, and more. With the current bond and levies, LWSD is asking for funding to cover what is NOT covered by the state.

4.”We are paying more than the other districts surrounding us.”

Actually, the data doesn’t support this. Issaquah, Northshore and Snoqualmie Valley school districts are all proposing higher tax rates than LWSD. Bellevue School District’s proposed tax rate is lower but that’s because Bellevue’s total property tax base has a greater proportion of commercial property and on average, a higher assessed property value per square mile than that of our school district. This results in overall lower property tax rates. To confirm this, look at the total amount Bellevue School District is asking for ($475 million) vs. what LWSD is asking for ($399.25 million).

5.”I don’t like the decisions that our school board has made lately so to show my displeasure, I am voting ‘no’ for the bond and levies.”

If you don’t like the decisions of the school board, then vote to replace the board members – or better yet, run for a school board position yourself – at the next election. Please don’t deprive our children of the resources they need for a quality education. They didn’t elect our school board.

6.”I just don’t like paying taxes.”

Truthfully, I don’t think many people LIKE paying taxes. However, taxation – especially at the local level – is a way that we can pool our resources and collectively uplift OUR community – whether it’s to provide access to better emergency services, or infrastructure, or education, etc. If we say that we value a world-class education, then our actions and choices should show that we do. Please don’t settle for a “basic education” – our children deserve better.

Yumna Green