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Issues with LWSD bond, response to guest opinion | Letter
Thank you for allowing our committee to respond to Jill Stoddart’s guest column as published on March 26.
Since Jill chose to question my motive, just Bing my name, I stand by what the reader finds. This is not an issue as to who cares more about schools. This is an issue as to what they should cost.
We ask the reader to do their own math using Lake Washington School District’s numbers presented to Kirkland City Council. Let me put this in the form of a word problem:
Take the $125 per year for a $500,000 house and multiply it by 20 years. Now multiply that by the ratio of that house to its portion of $32 billion of assessed property valuation in our school district. If you came up to the Admin’s $404,000,000 amount, then you should go ahead and vote for the bond.
But, if you did your work correctly, you should read on. Our concern, along with three of the city of Kirkland council members, is that the administration's own numbers don’t work. Which connects us to why our school cost don’t work either.
A few examples to our concerns:
• The district justifies their high cost school rebuilds by cherry picking the highest cost school rebuilds in the state. They include areas within an urban environment that is inherently expensive to build that are not the same as our suburban school district. However, with a simple RFI to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, you can find equivalent school districts that spend on average 38 percent less than the Lake Washington School District.
• 43 percent of this proposed bond is to replace Juanita High School. That budgeted expense of $134 million is more than a 50 percent increase over what was just expensed on Lake Washington High School. Both schools have close to the same population.
• The proposed expense for Juanita High School does not include pool replacement. The pool, if replaced is proposed to cost and additional $40 million.
• Regarding the lost of JHS’s pool: Newcastle YMCA, completed three years ago, built two 25-meter pools with a total of six lap lanes for under $16 million. That expense includes 32,000 square feet of gyms, locker rooms, showers, work out facilities, meeting rooms - all equal to the size of an average elementary school. The contractor on that job, with prevailing wages, built two pools and the equivalent of an elementary school for about a third of just what our administration is stating they need for a full pool replacement.
We have plenty more examples. Unfortunately, our documentation of these questions to the district since August of last year, and the alternate proposals since, have fallen on deaf ears. The Admin chooses to ignore our concerns and continues to promote irresponsible spending. At anytime that anyone from the administration wants to discuss this in a public forum, we will continue to make ourselves available.
Voter, don’t hold your breath waiting. Vote no on Proposition 1 and vote for affordable schools.
Mike Nykreim, Chair, Not-1.com committee for Affordable Schools