By next school year there will be 168 portables in the Lake Washington School District. That’s equal to the classroom space in seven elementary schools.
AS the mayors of the three cities served by the Lake Washington School District, we’ve seen firsthand how our area’s growth is affecting our local schools. Our school district currently has 27,830 students and has experienced seven straight years of enrollment increases. We are now one of the fastest-growing school districts in the state and leapfrogged from sixth largest to fourth largest just this year.
To put things in context, Seattle has 53,317 students enrolled this year. Spokane has 30,436, Tacoma has 29,307. And our neighbors Bellevue and Issaquah have 20,038 and 19,959, respectively.
With all this growth and more on the horizon, 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 schools’ most urgent needs while maintaining the current tax rate.
Most schools have more students than available classrooms. This 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 portable buildings, which are not a long-term solution. By next school year, there will be 168 portables districtwide. That’s equal to the classroom space in seven elementary schools.
After two bond propositions failed in 2014, the Lake Washington School District conducted extensive community input to help address the school district’s very real facility needs. An important part of this process was the formation of 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 cost-effective design principles recommended by the task force and adopted by the district to ensure the projects are as cost-effective as possible without sacrificing quality or square footage per student include:
• Stacking buildings to eliminate or minimize one-story designs
• Efficient and simple designs built in a compact manner that utilize easy-to-maintain systems
• Emphasis on aesthetics that are pleasing and fit neighborhood contexts, not based on design awards
• Clear standards for design teams to ensure commonality in construction documents and building and system solutions
By paying off other district bonds and levies, the school district can fund this bond proposal without raising our tax rate.”
• System of accountability for design teams with respect to district standards, short-and long-term value and educational goals
• Reusing portions of designs or design concepts across projects
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 League of Education Voters, Seattle-King County Association of REALTORS, the Affordable Housing Council, the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties, Lake Washington Education Association, the PTSA Council and The Seattle Times. You can see a full list of elected officials and community leaders who endorsed this measure at vote4lwsdkids.org.
We believe that the April 26 school bond measure 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 the community at large.