Commentary: Edmonds School District construction bond is an investment in kids, our neighborhoods and our future

Edmonds School Board President Deborah Kilgore

Proposition 1, the Edmonds School District capital construction bond, addresses two critical problems facing our community: aging schools and a shortage of capacity to meet the needs of our growing student population. Approval of the six-year, $600 million bond will enable us to replace three elderly schools and finish replacement of a fourth, add a new elementary and a new middle school, and make other long-term capital improvements throughout the district.

The School Board does not make this request lightly. We are your neighbors and we share your concerns. That is why we wanted to be sure that the bond election 1) reflects critical needs, 2) serves the interests of voters, and 3) is affordable for our community.

Our first task was to identify the need. We began this effort more than two years ago, assembling two separate committees, one to study enrollment patterns and population growth and then a second to study the physical condition of our existing schools. Committee members included students, teachers, parents, subject matter experts, and members of the wider tax-paying community, who brought a broad range of perspectives to the table. Their efforts resulted in a clear assessment of our district’s needs and recommendations to meet those needs that include both construction of new schools and replacement of aging schools.

As representatives and members of the community we serve, the Board strongly favored maintaining the current tax rate in this bond election. We appreciate that our community has very generously supported kids and schools in past bond and levy elections, and believe the community wants to continue supporting education. We are also aware that everyone is feeling the pinch of tax increases over the last several years. That is why we created a thoughtful plan to provide the most benefit to the community without raising the tax rate.

After careful consultation with our financial advisors, we learned that we could accomplish quite a lot within the six-year timeframe of the school bond, by simply keeping the tax rate at the current level. Here’s why. First, good financial stewardship of the 2014 capital bond funds has resulted in the completion of all construction projects we promised taxpayers in the last bond election. Second, our area has experienced extraordinary economic growth in the last six years so there is a larger commercial and residential tax base upon which to draw.

Look for your ballot in the mail and vote “Approved” on Proposition 1. While you’re at it, vote “Approved” on Proposition 2 as well. Proposition 2 enables the District to continue supporting educational technology in our schools, including the highly successful 1:1 Chromebook program. Invest in kids. Invest in neighborhoods. Invest in our future. Vote to “Approve”.

For more details about the school elections, please visit www.edmonds.wednet.edu/community/2020_capital__technology_levy___construction_bond.

— By Deborah Kilgore
Edmonds School Board President

13 Replies to “Commentary: Edmonds School District construction bond is an investment in kids, our neighborhoods and our future”

  1. Thomas Nicholson
    January 25, 2020 at 4:31 pm
    This is an interesting analysis of the process that occurred that has resulted in every homeowner in the Edmonds School District to be asked to vote on a nearly 3/4 Billion dollar bond and levy. We understand that the committees referenced recommended $1.7 Billion in tax dollars and the Board decided to ask for “only $600 Million” in the bond issue
    which is more than double than what was passed the last team the district proposed a bond issue. The District informational material about the bond and levy used an “average” home value of $400,000 to demonstrate the impact to property taxes. Anyone that lives in the District realizes that this is a completely unrealistic and misleading figure based on the unprecedented increase in home values in Edmonds, Lynnwood, Mt. Lake Terrace, and Brier. There is not a question that passage of this bond and levy will result in significant property tax increases to every resident in the district even if they choose not to vote (only 24% of residents voted in the last “Operational Levy” in 2018). Enough is enough and I urge you to take the ballot you received today and vote no to the Bond and levy. The district enrollment is growing at just over .5% and this outrageous amount of taxes will make living in the Edmonds School District unaffordable for many of our citizens.

    Thank you, Tom Nicholson

    Ignored

  2. I would like to know, with assurance, that incomes will be taxed and not housing! I have already had a friend move because her income could not cover the increased tax on her house.

    For the rest of us, if we can afford expensive coffee, tickets for sports events, slot machines, and anything else that is not absolutely necessary then we can afford to help our kids get the education they need to keep up with the other countries who value education.

    Ignored

    1. I am puzzled a bit by the response asking for assurance that incomes will be taxed and not housing. These are property tax levies (there are 2 on the ballot). That means taxing housing – I have not known of any kind of levy (such as these) that taxes only income, but then my knowledge may be limited in this arena. So, if you own a house (or houses) or condo, or whatever, it is a property tax levy, right? And if you rent, your rent could be affected if the property owner chooses to pass on the cost. Am I over-simplifying this?

      Ignored

  3. I have lived in Edmonds almost 45 years. I have NEVER voted against a school levy, and I do not intend to start now!

    Ignored

  4. It is time to start the fair taxing of excessive wealth and income (read income from stocks and bonds as well as salary and hourly wages) and quit taxing the relatively poor and elderly out of their homes for what all society needs (like good schools). I agree with Don above and disagree with John which is tough because he is one of my Edmonds Pals.

    In reality, I probably won’t vote in this election at all unless my ballot reaches me in time here in AZ. which it probably won’t since many of the locals here don’t appreciate snow birds living here part time and voting elsewhere. (Never mind that snow birds are a great asset to their economy). The local postal service seems to lose anything that looks like it might be an out of state ballot. At least that has been my experience here. I guess not voting is a form of voting in these goofy school levy issues anyway. In the unlikely chance I get to vote, mine will be a protest of the system no vote.

    Ignored

  5. What is hidden in these levies?? There is very little on what the COST of the levies will be to the average homeowner…

    Perhaps a go fund me page for the Edmonds School District ???

    Ignored

    1. The 2020 Bond Committee Report is incomplete. It did not include a “do-nothing alternative” which is standard in engineering economics and analysis. The reports should have included an economic analysis with the option of maintaining the buildings per their original designs with no upgrades. The school district should also make the full report available to the public online.

      I’m an engineer and spent the last 17 years in the federal government managing the design and construction of health care facilities and evaluating older healthcare facilities for replacement. I read the 2020 Bond and Enrollment committee reports and called the school district to discuss the recommendations with one of the committee members. I wanted to obtain all of the condition assessments for the replacement schools because they were not included with the reports and because the one sample report that was included for Oak Heights Elementary indicated many of the building elements ratings were 90% Good with several rated 100% Excellent. I was curious because I frequently walk my dog on weekends around the College Place schools and noticed the structures and exteriors are in pretty good shape.

      For Oak Heights, notwithstanding the domestic water distribution, the sample report indicates most of the building is in good to excellent condition with a few issues that might be easily resolved such as rebalancing the HVAC system and some painting. When I asked if the other assessments were similar the committee member responded that the buildings were “not in terrible condition.” The reasoning behind the replacements appears to be that upgrading them to current standards would cost more than building new facilities and I agree that is likely the case.

      The committee member offered to make the conditions assessments and full report available to me but I would have to go to the office to look at them (again they should make the full report public and easily accessible online). I asked if the reports included a cost benefit analysis of replacement versus upgrading and the committee member confirmed that was the case. It should be noted however, that the option to use the buildings “as is” with only required repairs to maintain them per their original basis of design was not presented in the reports (the do-nothing alternative was only discussed). So, for example, at Oak Heights, the do-nothing alternative might include rebalancing the HVAC system because some rooms are hot and cold, unblocking blocked grilles, repairing the existing domestic water system and painting the ceilings where stains occurred from roof leaks. Note the roof is now in 100% excellent condition. Go read the report. The assessment is at the end if you want to scroll down to it.

      The do-nothing alternative would simply be implementing typical maintenance and improvements items versus the upgrades desired by the school district. It would exclude items such as electronic access (security upgrades), upgrading the doors to meet ADA, space for intervention programs and meetings, increasing the number of bathrooms, adding room for cafeterias etc.

      The point is the do-nothing option combined with adding new schools would reduce class size. Given the school district is proposing 17 replacement schools at a cost of nearly 1.5 billion dollars it is incumbent upon them to provide a complete engineering analysis for the public to evaluate and that includes a do-nothing alternative (show us the math and why it is not viable). It very well may be their decision to replace the schools is the most economically viable, but without a complete report how is the public to know? For that reason, I am voting no.

      Ignored

      1. Great analogy Paul, thank you! You gave some very honest assessments of why we should vote NO on the Edmonds School Bond. I have often wondered why we have to have Architects and Designers create a unique new school building every time a school is built. A standard Elementary, Middle, and High School should be designed and the same plan and design used over and over again. Updates could be done to the plan for safety features and new code requirements. To create a new building design for each and every school is wasteful and only lines the pockets of architectural/design firms who like to enter design awards with their new unique creation. To standardize these new school buildings would save a lot of taxpayer dollars.

        Ignored

  6. There is also this link…

    https://www.edmonds.wednet.edu/UserFiles/Servers/Server_306670/File/Community/2020%20bond%20and%20levy/NEWSLETTER%C2%A02019%20FALL%20-%20ACCESSIBLE%20v2.pdf

    It is very general and leaves out a LOT of details of what the real costs are….follow the money! What is being hidden?? Whose pockets are getting lined?

    If the two levies were presented in a more complete and understandable fashion, one might vote intelligently “yes”, instead of ignorantly voting “yes” cuz’ “its for the kids”

    Vote reject or no!!

    Ignored

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *