As the mayors of the three cities served by the Lake Washington School District, we’ve seen first-hand how our area’s growth is affecting our local schools. It’s time to address the overcrowding in our schools by voting yes on the April 26 school bond, a common-sense proposal that prioritizes our school’s most urgent needs while maintaining the current tax rate.
Our school district currently has 27,830 students, and has experienced seven straight years of enrollment increases. In the past year alone, the district’s enrollment grew by 1,114 students — and went from the state’s sixth largest school district to its fourth largest.
Most schools have more students than available classrooms, and it is preventing our children from getting the best education possible. Classes and small group instruction are being held in places not designed for instruction. And there are a growing number of portables, which is not a long-term solution. By next school year there will be 168 portables district-wide. That’s equal to the classroom space in seven elementary schools.
The Lake Washington School District appointed a 63-member task force of parents and community members, which spent nearly a year exploring long-term solutions to enrollment growth. This bond proposal is based on their recommendations to build new schools and update and expand some aging schools — all using cost-effective design principles.
The April 26 bond proposal is the first stage of a long-term funding plan to address our schools’ growth. By paying off other district bonds and levies, the school district can fund this bond proposal without raising our tax rate. And bond approval ensures that the district is eligible for state matching funds to make sure our local investment goes even further
This measure is endorsed by the Seattle-King County Association of REALTORS, the Affordable Housing Council, the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties, Lake Washington Education Association and the PTSA Council. You can see a full list of elected officials and community leaders who endorsed this measure at www.vote4lwsdkids.org.
We believe that the April 26 school bond is fundamental to maintaining the quality of life for our cities’ residents. It ensures that our children get the best education possible without raising anyone’s tax rate. And we all know that good schools contribute to the economic vitality of our community, by attracting families who want to live here and businesses that want to locate here.
Please join us in voting “yes” for the Lake Washington School District Bond by April 26.
John Marchione is the mayor of Redmond, Amy Walen is the mayor of Kirkland and Don Gerend is the mayor of Sammamish.