Opinion

Bond faces critical needs

On Tuesday, March 10, a school bond proposition in the amount of $27.5 million will appear on the ballot. This is the first of several columns through which facts and details will be shared about this important bond proposition. This particular column focuses upon the cost of the bond, what it will fund, and why it looks significantly different from past bond proposals.

After three near-miss bond attempts and changes in current reality — such as slowed housing construction and enrollment growth in our district, national economic uncertainties, and the state deficit’s impact on education funding — a different approach is required. The cost of this bond has been significantly reduced, as only the most critical and urgent needs in our growing school district are addressed in this proposition— those needs that cannot be put on hold any longer.

Specifically, this bond is comprised of two key components. The majority of this proposition, $22.1 million, will provide much-needed repairs and safety upgrades to maintain the integrity of school buildings and systems throughout the district. While the needs vary by building, some of the projects include, but are not limited to, roof replacement, electrical upgrades, fire protection systems, new flooring, playground safety and security.

The remainder of this bond, $5.4 million, will help alleviate overcrowding at Mount Si High School by adding 12 modular classrooms to the high school campus, where its tennis courts are currently situated. The tennis courts, in turn, will be relocated to an adjacent practice field, to preserve this physical education ‘classroom’ and community resource. Creative ways to ease overcrowding in the common areas (lunchroom, hallways, etc.) in the high school facility are also being planned.

What will this bond cost taxpayers? This 20-year bond will have an estimated cost of 35 cents per $1000 of assessed valuation. The good news is that an old school bond of 54 cents per $1000 in valuation has recently been retired. This means that if this bond is approved, taxes for school bonds will cost less in 2010, when collections would begin, than in 2008. 

This bond ensures that the learning environment for teachers and their students will be safe, secure, and conducive to student learning. It protects our community’s investment in existing school buildings, and will also provide relief to overcrowding at Mount Si High School next fall. We recognize, however, that it does not address all the capacity needs of our growing school community. This is a first-step solution to address the most immediate and pressing facilities needs. Research and community discussion will continue regarding our long-term plan over the coming months.

On March 10, the voters residing in the Snoqualmie Valley School District will make a very important decision. Please take the time to become well-informed about the specific details of this school bond proposition. More information is available on the Snoqualmie Valley School District Web site at www.svsd410.org. Your vote will directly influence the future of our students and the quality of our school facilities.

Strong schools are essential to the health and vibrancy of any community. Ours is an amazing community filled with strong families and caring neighbors. Our young people deserve the best education possible with facilities that can support those opportunities. I thank you for your continued support of our schools and the students who attend them.

• Joel Aune is superintendent of Snoqualmie Valley School District. Call him at (425) 831-8000.

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