Apr 052016
 

East of Seattle News Editorial

Editorial — Issaquah school bond deserves voter support

April 5, 2016

recent public hearing at City Hall Northwest on the Issaquah School District’s proposed construction and maintenance bond attracted exactly one speaker: a member of the Issaquah School Board, who spoke in favor of the $533 million question that is going before voters this month.

It’s apparent the district has a good thing going. It seems as if every time the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction releases new education statistics, Issaquah shines. Chronic absenteeism? Among the lowest in the state. Graduation rates? Among the highest. One local housing development under construction trumpeted the “renowned Issaquah School District” in its promotional materials.

And those housing developments are the reason property taxes would not rise if voters approve the bond. Issaquah’s explosive growth, adding more and more residents to the tax base, means the district can ask citizens for half a billion dollars and still keep the tax rate at or below the current $4.14 per $1,000 of assessed property value. That’s $2,070 if your home is valued at $500,000.

All those new residents are bringing new students with them. The district says it has grown by more than 2,000 students in the past four years and expects to add between 1,500 and 2,000 students in the next five. Hence, the need for school construction.

The bond would pay for a new high school, the district’s fourth, at a budgeted cost of $120 million, according to the district. A new middle school, the district’s sixth, is projected to cost $74 million. A rebuild of Pine Lake Middle School will run $71 million. Two new elementary schools are expected to cost a combined $74 million. And land acquisition for the four brand-new schools is budgeted at $97 million.

In addition, six existing elementary schools would be remodeled and modernized at a projected cost of $7 million to $9 million each.

If the bond fails, taxes would drop, but not significantly. According to statistics provided by the district, by 2019, the tax rate would decline to about $3.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value, or $1,750 on a $500,000 home. Is that reduction of less than $300 annually in taxes worth overcrowded schools and outdated facilities?

Vote yes on the Issaquah School District bond April 26.

http://www.eastofseattle.news/issaquah/opinion/editorials/editorial-issaquah-school-bond-deserves-voter-support/article_0cba5a18-fb6b-11e5-968b-cfaae2d8bb8c.html

Jan 222014
 

Sammamish Review Editorial – 01/22/2014

Everyone in Sammamish is going to have a chance to weigh in on school-related tax increases. Residents in both of the city’s two major school districts will have measures on the ballot.

There is no doubt that voters should approve all of the various bond and levy requests on the Feb. 11 ballot arriving in mailboxes this week.

The biggest ticket item is the Lake Washington district proposing a three-quarter of a billion dollar bond. It’s a lot of money, but it’s worth the price. Student populations are growing and will continue to do so. The district doesn’t have the option of saying it’s full, they must have a seat for each student who shows up.

Voters rejected a bond in 2010, but the needs that bond was designed to address haven’t gone away – they’ve intensified.

Beyond Lake Washington’s bond, both districts have levies to support their day-to-day operations. The levies are all replacement levies, while they represent a tax increase, they are not a new tax.

Issaquah’s Maintenance and Operations levy last’s four years and pays about 21 percent of district classroom costs. Lake Washington’s Educational Programs and Operations levy serves the same role and pays 22 percent of that district’s costs.

Those two are, perhaps, the most important of the levy questions, and their passage is most critical to district operations.

Both districts also have a four-year capital levy that seeks technology funds and building repairs. Computer replacement and upgrades are a way of life in today’s world, and maintenance of our school buildings is not an option.

Issaquah voters also have a transportation levy proposed for one year, buying 71 more fuel-efficient school buses with higher safety standards.

Teachers and computers are the foundation of a good education.

Neither the state nor the federal government offers help in funding technology, but few would argue that computers are an unnecessary expense in educating tomorrow’s leaders.

Building repairs may not directly benefit education, but are essential components of district operations.

Everyone in society benefits from quality public schools. Vote yes on all of the bond and levy measures.

Jan 212014
 

Issaquah Press Staff Editorial – 01/21/2014

There is no doubt that voters should approve the three Issaquah School District levy requests on the Feb. 11 ballot arriving in mailboxes this week.

There are questions every voter should ask:

1) Is it essential?

The most important funding request is for the four-year M&O levy, paying 21 percent of classroom costs, including 485 teacher salaries. It replaces the current M&O levy. A transportation levy would only be collected for one year, to buy 71 more fuel-efficient school buses with higher safety standards. And the four-year capital levy seeks technology funds and building repairs. Computer replacement and upgrades are a way of life in today’s world, and maintenance of our school buildings is not an option.

2) Will the expense equate to better education for students?

Teachers and computers are the foundation of a good education. Better school buses and building repairs may not directly benefit education, but are essential components of the district operations.

3) Will the money be well spent?

The Issaquah School District knows how to stretch a dollar. Issaquah is at the bottom of state school districts when it comes to per-pupil education funding, yet student test scores are among the top. Further, the district has a AAA bond credit rating, the highest possible. It often refinances bonds to take advantage of lower interest rates and stretch dollars even more. The state has given the district exemplary audits the past 11 years.

In spite of an increase of 1.7 percent tax over current school levies, all signs point to a yes vote for all three levies.