Letters to the Editor

Reasons to vote yes on school bond | Letter

Letters to the editor - Reporter file art
Letters to the editor
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Should elementary school playgrounds and sports fields be filled with children running, jumping and having fun at recess or should portable classrooms fill those playgrounds?

Should kids as young as five or six have to leave for school around 5 a.m. to get to class on time at 6 a.m. or should they still be sleeping as most pediatricians recommend?

Should high school students have to take blankets into classrooms because “schools without walls” failed as a concept and walls and ventilation had to be added later?

With more than 800 new students in the last year and 4,000 more kids soon to be knocking at schoolhouse doors in Lake Washington School District, voters in Redmond, Kirkland and Sammamish must vote yes on April 22.

More than 58 percent of the school district’s voters said YES in the February election. A swing of less than two percent will enable us to give students the schoolrooms they deserve and the education that their parents wanted for them when they moved here.

When asked why did you move to Redmond, Kirkland and Sammamish, the overwhelming number of residents answered – great education for our children. Keep in mind, residents moving in and buying homes in the District adds value to existing homes.

“Stellar schools” was one of the primary reasons CNN Money ranked Redmond fifth “Best Places To Live” in 2012. Just this year, 25 schools in our District received Washington Achievement Awards from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and the State Board of Education.

Sen. Andy Hill, Rep. Larry Springer and Rep. Roger Goodman have endorsed the bond measure as have the city councils of Redmond, Kirkland and Sammamish. Knowing that good schools sell homes, the Seattle/King County Realtors also believe in investing in LWSD Schools.

With our schools reaching crisis overcrowding, we are placing our children’s educational opportunities at risk.

King 5 reported April 15 students at LWSD’s Rockwell Elementary overcrowding is so severe (200 kids over capacity) that classes are being taught in portables, divided classrooms and, yes, even in the hallways.

To date, our teachers and principals have responded like heroes to the crisis. However, even their efforts can’t magically make room for another 4,000 kids. As Rockwell Principal Kirsten McArdle's told King 5: "We really have run out of options. Every space we have in this school is being used."

What will an extra $10-11 a month buy our children … and the kids soon to arrive … with this bond?

• Three new elementary schools (two in Redmond and one in Kirkland – where the overcrowding is most severe and the most growth is expected);

• Rebuild and expand Juanita High School (originally built as an “school without walls” that had to be rehabbed with walls and ventilation);

• Build a new STEM-focused high school (giving westside students the same great learning experience of LWSD’s student at first STEM high school on the eastside); and

• Expand Lake Washington High School (built before ninth-grade students were shifted into high schools).

If the minority of the districts voters say no to better educational opportunities to today’s students and tomorrow’s employees, what options face our kids and their teachers?

Without building more classrooms, "no voters" will force such bad options as:

• Kids of all ages starting class at 6 a.m. and ending at noon with others starting at 1 p.m. and finishing class at 7 p.m. This is what “double-shifting” means in real life terms.

• Buying many new portable classrooms. Where will the money come from to buy dozens of portables at $300,000 each? Ask the “no voters."

• Students being bussed even farther from their home schools than current (and temporary) overcrowding remedies have caused. With 4000 new students coming, how long would this band-aid work?

• Students attending Juanita High School while the school is being rehabbed once again which not would not only hurt learning but could be potentially dangerous to students and staff.

• Canceling all day kindergarten.

This Bond will build energy efficient, environmentally “green” schools designed to house our

children while they learn. Already schools in our District with more efficient and green systems are realizing cost savings that are being passed on to taxpayers.

What the issue comes down to is this: Isn’t an extra $10 - $11 a month a small price to pay to enable teachers to teach and kids to learn in schools that promote learning?

Jackie Pendergrass, Lake Washington Citizens Levy Committee

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