A vote in favor of school bond is critical for Everett students

True / False questions:

1. Overcrowded schools are good for our kids.

2. Run-down school facilities are good for our property values.

3. School facilities will get better on their own if we ignore them.

Citizens who live in the Everett School District have a choice to make in an upcoming bond election — and we would like to encourage a YES vote. We have all had the honor of serving on the Everett School Board, and, like you, we have all been focused on your children. This encompasses support for staff and student safety, keeping up with technology, and maintaining facilities as our community grows and our buildings age.

And we would also like to set the record straight about the School District’s recently completed Community Resource Center. There seems to be a perception that the School Board woke up one morning and decided to take money from other projects in order to build an unnecessary building for administrators. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Over the years, we have taken pride in the quality of our teachers, and the functionality of our school facilities. Our school buildings were never lavish, but well built and well suited to the fundamental purpose of providing an environment for teaching our children. Additionally, we worked very hard to get every project done on time, and under budget. And we were successful in many, many projects. (Some years ago, Seattle Schools sent a team up to Everett to spend the day and learn how we went about this.) In the process, we put money aside for emergencies and the unforeseen. For 25 years, the School Board has anticipated building the Community Resource Center with funds saved from interest earnings, rental and fees, sale of property no longer needed, and state school construction assistance funds.

Everett Public Schools have a decades-long history of exemplary financial management. There are 295 school districts in Washington, and, according to Standard &Poor’s, just one — Bellevue School District — has a higher credit rating than our own Everett Public Schools. In the last decade alone, the district has refinanced bonds (the same way many of us refinance homes when the interest rates go down). The savings from those refinance actions have been almost $25 million. That’s money you and I did not pay in taxes because someone at the district was watching the market on our behalf.

The challenges we all face together are many, and we are at a crossroad. We need your YES vote in the upcoming bond election.

We have a long tradition of expecting good schools for our kids, and supporting schools during good times and bad.

The projects in this ballot proposition are critical, will not go away, and if delayed, will likely cost more. This bond before us on April 22 will continue that work to protect community assets and to ensure that our students are in safe, modern facilities that prepare them to work, not only in jobs that exist today, but in careers that we don’t even know exist today.

We need your support for:

Technology equipment and infrastructure — including infrastructure for robust science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) technology needs.

Renovation of Cascade High School science building.

Energy and HVAC upgrades, roof replacements, ADA upgrades and flooring replacements throughout the district. (This is a routine part of the district’s 40-year capital facilities plan to maintain schools and extend their useful life beyond the state’s 30-year standard.)

Safety enhancements to school entryways so that visitors enter and leave through one doorway that can be monitored.

Modernizing and renovating North Middle School and Woodside Elementary School.

A new elementary in the southern portion of the district to relieve overcrowding in that area.

Expansions, conversions and portables (a total of 40 classrooms) at Silver Firs, Mill Creek, Cedar Wood, Emerson, View Ridge, Jefferson, Woodside, Silver Lake, Forest View, Lowell, Hawthorne and Jackson elementary.

Phase I of a new high school in the southern part of the district.

Synthetic turf fields at Cascade and Henry M. Jackson high schools.

We hope you’ll join us in voting YES for schools when your ballot arrives in the mail later this week. Remember, when this bond is approved, the local school tax rate when collections begin is projected to be the same as it was for property owners in 2013. This bond preserves past investments in our schools, ensures that students have modern facilities for learning, and we get that for a tax rate on par with the rate we paid for local schools in 2013.

The following co-authors are all retired members of the Everett School Board: Bob Anderson, 1965-1968; Paul Baldwin, 1991-1997; Sue Cooper, 1984-2009; Pete Dewell, 1967-1972; Ed Diamond, 1965-1973; Kristie Dutton, 1999-2011; Paula Kelley, 1995-1999; Karen Madsen, 1997-2009; Mark Nesse, 1993-1999; Ed Petersen, 2006-2013; Don Rider, 1979-1985; Paul Roberts, 1999-2006; Shirley Vandermeer, 1977-1995; and Roy Yates, 1988-2007.

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