Vote yes on school facilities bond | Letter

On Nov. 7, we will be holding the general election and the most important issue you will have to make in that election is whether to support the proposed school bond. In this article, I will give you some good reasons as to why you should vote yes.

I have been an employee for the school district for over 19 years and have worked at some of the nine schools that will be rebuilt if the bond passes. These include Thomas Jefferson High School, now the oldest high school in Federal Way, Totem and Illahee middle schools, Olympic View, which will become our third K-8 school, Lake Grove, Star Lake, Mirror Lake and Wildwood elementary schools and a renovation of Memorial Stadium where many community events are held. The ninth school is Mark Twain Elementary, which is discussed below. Furthermore, I served on the Facilities Planning Committee, and I can assure you we got it right when we picked the nine schools because most of these schools are 40 to 50 years old because they were built from 1956 to 1971. To use an analogy, these schools are like your car: When they get that old, it becomes more cost-prohibitive to repair them than to replace them. When that happens to your car, you go buy a newer one; for these schools, we need to build facilities that are more modernized and cost/energy efficient.

The biggest reason for voting yes on this Phase II bond is that it is a win-win situation. Why is that true? First, the rate and amount collected on this bond will be the same as the previous bond (Phase I). Second, these new schools will be built larger than our current schools so the overcrowding issue can be addressed. Finally, by passing this critical bond, the state will provide School Construction Assistance Program funding, which will result in three important things: (1) a rebuild of Mark Twain Elementary on another site because Sound Transit plans to run the new light rail to our city over the current site; (2) critical maintenance (e.g. roofs, boilers, etc.) for other schools that are not being rebuilt; and (3) an upgrade of security for all schools because the safety of our students, as well as our staff, must always be a top priority. Finally, It will also help the superintendent achieve the goals in her strategic plan so that every student can achieve a world class education.

There is one important difference with this bond: It doesn’t pass with a simple majority like most measures. It requires a super majority (60+ percent) to pass, as well as a specified voter turnout. The surrounding school districts have already passed their bonds; now it is our turn.

Be sure to vote on Nov. 7, and vote yes for this vitally important school bond. We owe it our scholars to provide them with the best facilities possible so they can get the best education possible and give them the bright future they all deserve.

Gary Robertson, Federal Way

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