Communities In Schools supports both levies | Letters
February 3, 2012 · Updated 2:49 PM
There is much going on in the Federal Way Public Schools these days: a new grading system, new board members, massive budget balancing acts, a streamlined decision-making process, and a recent Supreme Court decision supporting school funding from the state.
On top of all that, as part of the levy approved four years ago, four new schools opened this year, a new administration building just opened, and a new service center will be finished soon.
It has been a busy year for our school district, but all of their effort is in support of a long-term effort to improve the conditions under which children learn.
Next up will be the two levies offered for our consideration in the special election slated for Feb. 14. The first one is an operating levy that was originally put in place to fill the gaps that the state left during budget cuts over the last few budget cycles.
Although the recent court decision requires the state to pony up, the state coffers do not have anything in them to fix their transgressions anytime soon. The levy will still be needed to keep the school district operating in their current situation. Very plainly, if this levy does not pass, people will lose their jobs.
The second levy is to primarily rebuild Federal Way High School, but includes funding for important fixes at a number of other schools. The casual taxpayer/voter might wonder about the wisdom of the district in asking for more money to build more in this challenging economy.
But the circumstances offer an important opportunity. With money leftover from the prior improvement funding, the district is able to leverage that into twice its amount and effectively pay for half of a new high school at no cost to us. But half of a new high school is no school.
Constructed in 1929, Federal Way High School was one of the first buildings built in this area. In fact, it wasn’t even a high school back in the day; it started as an elementary school. Over the years, a number of additions, repairs and upgrades have been tacked on, and the school morphed into the cludgy facility we see today.
But at some point in every structure’s life, old construction becomes more of a hindrance than a quaint feature. A quick drive-by might suggest the building is in fair condition, but a brief tour of the inside will demonstrate to anyone that this building has lasted well beyond its useful life. The school district has squeezed all that they can out of this facility. It’s time to replace it.
Communities In Schools works every day to bring materials and caring adult volunteers into the school to help kids, but sometimes it takes more to provide an environment that can respond to the changing needs of education. For this reason, Communities In Schools of Federal Way supports both levies and urges your support by voting “yes” on Feb. 14.
With the restructuring of prior bonds and other levies expiring, the cost is only a few dollars per month per household. Together we can make a big difference in improving how our kids learn.
We’re on a roll. Let’s keep the momentum of system-wide improvement in our schools going.
Pete Gonzales, board president, Communities In Schools of Federal Way