Lake Washington School District parents, students, teachers and elected officials rallied Monday to remind voters to approve propositions 1, 2 and 3, which will be on the Feb. 13 special election ballot.
Locals gathered as rain fell in front of Kamiakin Middle School and several other schools across the district to garner support for the propositions that would approve two levy renewals and a bond. The district-wide Red Monday event brought together numerous supporters who aimed to encourage morning commuters to mail in their ballots.
“It’s really to make people aware, because the most important thing they can do is vote,” said Martha Deamicis, a Lake Washington Citizens Levy Committee member. “We need people to vote ‘yes’ to support our schools and we’re out here in the rain, wearing red to make sure that people remember to do that and to remember how important it is for our community.”
Numerous cars honked in support as they passed by the dozens of kids, parents and community members waiving bright red signs.
“It’s a great lesson in how [these kids] can make a difference by getting involved,” said Kirkland Deputy Mayor Jay Arnold at the rally. “They can be a part of this, see the results on Feb. 14 and say, ‘Hey, I made a difference in helping my own school.’”
The most difficult part about passing these propositions is getting voters to actually vote, according to Corky Trewin, a bond committee member and Kirkland native.
“The important thing today is to remind people that their ballots are sitting on their counter,” Trewin said. “The longer they wait, unfortunately, the tougher it is to get them to put the ballot in the mail.”
The levies and bond, if approved, will provide funding to maintain and expand district schools as they face overpopulation with an average annual growth of 700 students since 2008.
According to Deamicis, the levy renewals will help maintain district schools and fill the gaps between state funding, which makes up about 59 percent of district funding. The bond, which is the second of four measures the district plans to place before voters, will provide $299 million for the district to cope with its growing student population.
“If you’re from Kirkland, you probably know it’s growing, so we need lots of space,” Deamicis said. “It’s important that we pass these bonds so we can build schools or enlarge schools that are existing.”
School officials attempted to address the district’s rapid growth through a bond that ran in 2010 and 2014 but failed both times. The district then formed a task force that proposed a long-term facility plan that proposed running four bonds in 2016, 2018, 2022 and 2026.
The current bond will add space for 2,100 students, adding on to the first bond, which voters approved in 2016 and added space for 3,000 students across the district.
If approved, this year’s bond will fund an addition at Lake Washington High School, a new elementary school, a new choice high school in Sammamish, special education learning spaces, capital projects and replace and enlarge Kamiakin Middle School and Alcott Elementary.
The first bond used $398 million to expand Juanita High School, Kirk Elementary and Mead Elementary and construct new schools in Redmond Ridge and north Redmond.
“As a parent with three daughters in district schools and an elected official, [I] see how growth is affecting our schools across the district,” Arnold said. “We see the need to address the overcrowding and provide the best schools for our future.”