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Vote yes to rebuild Juanita High School | letter
As a parent of a Juanita High School student, I urge you to vote yes for all three measures presented by Lake Washington School District on Feb. 11.
Lake Washington’s propositions include renewal of an Educational Programs and Operations Levy that funds 22.5 percent of the district’s general operating cost and renewal of the Capital Projects Levy. Those funds would support teaching and learning tools, safety, security and health upgrades, school building and site improvements. The third measure would raise $755 million through sales of 20-year bonds. The money would be used for new classroom space and expand existing building to accommodate growing enrollment and configuration changes. Enrollment is projected at 4,000 more students in the next eight years. Every fall kids show up on our school’s doorsteps and we need to find a place for them. We need building space.
Additionally, we need to replace a number of aging schools. Juanita High School is one of those schools. Built in 1971 with an experimental “open concept," the school was not built with traditional walled classrooms. When that fad ran its course, classroom walls were added inside. Poor design led to makeshift poor design thus, to this day, few classrooms have windows, allowing no natural light, and heating and cooling problems persist. Further, there are only two bathrooms for each gender causing long lines during breaks. Hallways are narrow and a challenge to negotiate during passing times. Even with an enlarged cafeteria, many students still must sit on the floor to eat lunch. Administration offices are not consolidated and the random layout is difficult to navigate. Roof leaks in the field house have been a problem for years and as most know by now the pool, which has been the school’s best feature, is on its last legs. The bond measure won’t save the pool, as the school district has decided it is not in the pool business, but the passing of a bond measure will certainly help rebuild this dilapidated school.
Level the playing field. While this issue is rarely discussed, it is safe to say that Juanita High School has been left behind. All other high schools in the district have either been rebuilt and or expanded upon in a time where very little attention has been given to Juanita High School. In 2011, we were asked to support a capital improvement levy to expand Eastlake High School, for growth reasons, which was built new in 1993, twenty two years after Juanita was established. Additionally, Redmond High School was rebuilt in 2003 and expanded upon in 2011. It is our time. Juanita added 400 extra kids in the reconfiguration process two years ago and is bursting at the seams.
Juanita High is an outstanding school. Did you know that Juanita houses the Futures Program that keeps “at risk” kids on track and works hard to make sure they graduate on time? Did you know that it is in its fourth year of the Cambridge Program that offers a rigorous world-class curriculum to their students? Did you know that it recently started a Global Health STEM curriculum working in cooperation with the local medical community to get kids prepared to tackle real world health solutions? Did you know that it is the only high school that has an organized "Rebel Pride Day" event held twice a year where students voluntarily give their time to spruce up the campus? Did you know that it has a 24 percent free and reduced lunch population, the highest of the district’s high schools, yet a 96 percent graduation rate? Did you know that the current Principal Gary Moed was recently named 3A principal of the year and Gloria Heier was nominated as associate principal of the year?
The administration is solid and has attracted a dedicated staff. The programs are solid and the kids are solid. All we need are solid walls. We need a school building for the future of these bright students. Juanita students want and deserve decent facilities that are provided to the other high school students in the district.
My student will be long gone by the time Juanita High School and other deserving schools get rebuilt, but I am casting my yes vote, for the bond and the levy renewal measures. Investing in education and school facilities is the best investment a community can make.
Lile Ellefsen, Kirkland