Voters will weigh in again on the Everett School District bond that failed to reach the 60 percent threshold in February. A “yes” vote not only benefits current and future students, but signals to new residents and employers that district families put a premium on K-12 education.
For voters, the charge is to separate the sometimes-acrimonious politics of the school board from the educational needs of area children. To sandbag a bond over the handling of the district’s new administration building is cold comfort to students requiring more classroom space at Silver Lake and Hawthorne Elementary. It’s a form of self-flagellation: Annoy the district by punishing students and, by extension, the community.
District leaders made a tactical decision to revisit the bond as soon as possible and forward an identical package to voters. For some, this reinforces the narrative that the district is a wee listening-challenged. The supposition of supporters is that pro-bond voters weren’t mobilized in February, but they will be come April 22.
We hope that’s true, because another “no” vote has consequences: Flight to private schools and incentive to uproot to better-performing school districts. How will Realtors spin it? “May I show you something in Shoreline or Mukilteo?”
As we noted earlier this year, a measure that preserves a stable tax rate and provides for the next generation of K-12 students defines the public interest.
The bond is the product of a protracted process, with discussions at 14 board meetings since 2011, comprehensive work sessions, long-range enrollment and facilities-planning updates, and a long-term capital facilities review. Public and cross-sector participation underscored inclusion with students, board, staff and the community. The goal was to harmonize the bond with the district’s strategic plan, capacity and enrollment projections, a facilities’ inventory, and anticipation of future needs such as full-day kindergarten and K-3 class-size reductions. It’s a case study in complex planning that puts students and taxpayers first.
The district itself is massive — 15 miles long with shifting demographics. Beginning in the late 1960s, administrators began methodical planning to align bonds and levies with forecast needs.
The stable-tax rate plan for $259.4 million ($6.55 per $1,000 of assessed home value, the same rate as in 2013) involves new construction, modernization and new technology. Phase 1 of a new high school (housing approximately 750 students), synthetic turf fields at two high schools, and building upgrades.
Make your vote count on April 22. Vote yes.