Forum: Edmonds schools bond, levy will prepare kids for future

The bond and levy will replace aging schools and provided needed technology and other upgrades.

Gary Noble

Gary Noble

By Gary Noble / Herald Forum

Just over 20 years ago, I was elected to the Edmonds School District Board of Directors. It’s been an honor serving our schools, our students and families, our staff and our community over these past five terms.

Now, as a private citizen, I can’t emphasize enough the importance for you to vote for two school funding measures on the Feb. 13 ballot: Proposition 1 is a school construction bond and Proposition 2 is a replacement technology and capital levy. These propositions will fund new school buildings to replace those that are well past their intended lifespans and provide access to technology to give our students and staff the tools and skills necessary to be competitive for the jobs of tomorrow.

School bonds fund a fixed amount that is capped in perpetuity. This leads to a stable long-term tax environment, one that will not see taxes increasing because of these two propositions being approved. Further, it maintains our status as a school district with one of the lowest tax rates in our region.

Proposition 1 is needed because the state does not fund the construction or repair of schools. Below is a list of capital construction projects funded by Proposition 1:

• Oak Heights Elementary, built in 1967, 57 years old;

• Westgate Elementary, 1958, 66 years old;

• College Place Elementary, 1969, 55 years old;

• College Place Middle School, 1970, 54 years old; and a

• New fifth middle school at the former Alderwood Middle School campus

Proposition 1 is extremely important for two major reasons. First, it replaces four schools that were built quickly and cheaply more than 50 years ago to support a population boom. These schools have neither the safety nor educational features expected of a modern school. They don’t have single-point entry so it is difficult to control visitors to the campus. They also don’t have features like pull-out areas for small groups and individual assistance.

Second, it builds a fifth middle school. We are one of the the last districts in the area that hasn’t switched to a sixth-through-eighth-grade middle school configuration because we don’t have enough middle school space to include sixth grade. Our state’s Common Core Standards and Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA) are based on the sixth-through-eighth middle school configuration. Imagine the difficulty our elementary sixth-grade teachers have teaching a science curriculum designed to be taught in a middle school science lab.

Proposition 2 is a replacement levy that funds equipment and materials for student technology, professional learning and infrastructure, including Chromebooks for students, student home internet access and cybersecurity tools. The state does not provide funding for school technology.

Proposition 2 also includes funding for several small works projects throughout the district.

We should be clear-eyed about the opportunity that is before us, one that rarely comes around with the potential to contribute to growth and vibrancy in our communities and economy for generations to come. Accordingly, our collective focus should be oriented around these two funding measures and ensure that both are approved on Feb. 13. Doing so will immediately impact thousands of students not only today, but for years to come.

If you’re interested in being part of the effort to get Propositions 1 and 2 approved, Yes! for ESD Kids is the parent and community-led group charged with advocating for the levy and bond for the Edmonds School District. They have several upcoming opportunities in January and February to phone-bank, door-knock, sign-wave, and spread the word. Please visit their website at www.yesforesdkids.org to learn more about their work. If you cannot dedicate time to this year’s campaign but would still like to support it in a different way, consider making a financial contribution to Yes! for ESD Kids, which will help them get out the vote in the weeks ahead.

Thank you in advance for your attention to this very important special election. Please join me in voting yes to approve Propositions 1 and 2 by Feb. 13. The future of our community depends on it!

Gary Noble is a former school board director for the Edmonds School District.

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