Letters to the Editor

Juanita High School replacement is extravagant, inequitable | Letter

Letters to the editor - Reporter file art
Letters to the editor
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I’m disappointed that the Lake Washington School District inflated this growth bond issue to enable the rebuilding of Juanita High School. This relatively new building was built for permanence and ease of modernizing. I understand that there is powerful political pressure to rebuild it instead. Not  because of need, but to have a new high school like the other two.  The voters have wisely rejected attempts to raise money for this twice. But still the LWSD packaged the replacement of Juanita with schools needed for growth in another determined attempt to push it through.
The LWSD has known of the growth problem for years. It used our money to replace existing schools instead of building new buildings to handle it. It allowed the problem to become serious. District officials should have already been using part of the millions of surplus from past bond sales to fast-track design and otherwise get needed buildings "shovel ready" for construction when money is available. But even if this bond issue fails, the district still has the means to correct its mistakes and avoid any serious delay in building schools needed for growth.
In this hastily contrived redo of the rejected bond issue, officials quickly cut two schools, which would have added space for 640 students. Five-out-of-six replacement schools were also cut with a promise that before asking for any more money for replacing schools, a modernization study would be done. The replacement of Juanita was left in and will obviously escape this scrutiny if the bond issue passes.
There is no pressing need for more space at Juanita. It isn't even scheduled for completion until 2019. Replacement will only add 110 students to its total capacity. It's over $150 million projected cost consumes almost 40 percent of this "growth" bond issue. That's as much as the proposed three new elementary schools and the new middle school, which together add space for 2,550 students.
Many of our schools have waited years for modernization. Spending all that money to replace Juanita will make them wait years longer. The district's capital facilities plan leaves thousands of students still housed in portables district wide for years. Yet replacement of Juanita will remove its portables.
The Juanita replacement is extravagant and inequitable. It should be rejected again. The voters should have no fear of dire housing consequences by doing so. In any event, I hope we can expect better stewardship of our valuable buildings and limited financial resources from the district in the future.
Paul Hall, Kirkland

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