Letter to the editor: Prop 1 and 2 — A worthwhile investment in our community’s future

Editor:

On Tuesday, Feb. 13 we get to vote on two Edmonds School District funding propositions that are truly important to our community’s future. I am encouraging you to vote yes for both.

My three children attended and graduated from the Edmonds Schools. We were fortunate to have moved into the district in 1990. Local voters before our arrival made the investment to build schools, grounds and sports fields to allow our children to learn, grow and flourish as they progressed toward adulthood. Now it is our turn to make those same investments so that the next generation of students have similar opportunities to learn, grow and flourish on their journey to adulthood.

To me, Propositions 1 and 2 are less about taxes and more about the value one places on the future success of our community, the overall health of our civic discourse, and the strength and vibrancy of our democracy going forward. All are tethered to our public schools.

Propositions 1 and 2 are also about my grandchildren, your grandchildren, and your neighbors’ grandchildren. They’re an investment in kids you’ll likely never meet, akin to the investments made for my kids and your kids by the residents who came before us.

Edmonds Public Schools began in 1899. Many dollars have been invested since that time to provide the resources for the success of many students. Vote yes on Feb. 13 so that investment will carry over to the future.

Thank you.

Tom Mesaros
Former Edmonds City Councilmember and volunteer for Yes for ESD Kids

  1. While I appreciate Mr. Mesaros’ remarks and have voted for Edmonds School District bonds and levies in the past, I have recently been rethinking my votes and concluded that voting yes is a vote that perpetuates a failing public education system. While Washington State ranks 19 in government K-12 student spending it ranks 25 in student achievement. Less than 50% of Edmonds District students meet state standards in math and science. Slightly more than 50% meet the ELA standard. I believe that the only way to rectify this failure is to introduce competition, which requires having government money follow students rather than all go to public schools. This will allow more students to attend private and religious schools. It will hopefully result in the opening of charter schools in the Edmonds School District. Both will force public schools to improve their performance if they want to retain enough students to justify their existence. Passing bond and levies designed to improve facilities alone will not create this result. This simply perpetuates the status quo. Thus, my vote will be no.

    1. By your logic, we could improve police departments by allowing citizens to divert their taxes designated for police protection to Pinkerton or other security services, thus forcing competition in law enforcement and subsequently improving policing. Of course, that would not work. Public funds should be used to provide public access to services. Citizens who wish alternative options should not be able to use those funds for private (or especially religious…church/state separation) alternatives. While it’s obvioius that the funding process for schools needs a major overhaul, until that happens we need to support this important community asset with “yes” votes.

        1. Fair question. Also why the literary animus toward library books, deep social narratives and stories about all kinds of people?

    2. I urge you to reconsider. There is already competition for student dollars. Students within the Edmonds School District already have choices. For example, WAVA and Connections Academy are two publicly funded charter schools that students can attend virtually. Both are excellent programs and many families in our area have chosen them.

      Starving the Edmonds School District and allowing school facilities to deteriorate further will not improve education. It will send a strong message that kids don’t matter; that property values don’t matter; and that Edmonds voters don’t value education like they do in Bellevue and Kirkland.

      1. Jennifer,

        I think what you’re hearing is that there is concern about more than just the buildings. The report card results for the Edmonds School District are appalling. After the dust settles from this vote, I would suggest that the community have an honest discussion with the ESD about their plans to improve the outcomes. We’re headed in the wrong direction and doing our students a disservice. While building more and better buildings may help with the educational environment, it won’t fix the underlying problem. We want the same or better outcomes as they get in Bellevue and Kirkland.

      2. Based on my brief internet check, WAVA and Connections Academy are not Charter Schools. The are both on-line schools and thus not comparable to in-person schools.

  2. The whole idea of public schools is that every citizen deserves a chance for a quality education to be able to compete in the world and keep our nation strong in the process; regardless of what any given family can afford. How is starving the public system to death going to make it better? That will just make it gone, which I suspect is the real goal of a lot of the people pushing for government financial support of charter and private (often religion based) schools. It would be good to take a hard look at funding sources for public schools, considering all the loop holes for the rich people and corporations in our taxation schemes, but that is a different topic that is related to but not central to how this vote should go to replace worn out schools and continue to maintain the good ones we have.

  3. I suggest that Mr. Wright and others interested in school choice visit the University of Arkansas School Choice Demonstration Project (scdp.uark.edu). The report titled “Is More School Choice Associated with Higher State-Level Performance on the NAEP?” Shows that school choice improves student performance. In order to get school choice government money needs to follow students, not given only to public schools.

  4. If you look at the study Mr. Kindness talks about here you will find that U of ARK. basically did a study of the Indianapolis school system’s charter school program and found it to be excellent. When I researched the actual system, I discovered that the charter system there is simply a more flexible approach given to certain schools with independent boards of directors from the regular school board; but are still actually PART OF the regular public school system, totally free and open to anyone who wants to go there. In other words, this isn’t exactly a pure form of charter and private schools, supported with public funding. Basically, they are just better run public schools that anyone in the school tax paying public can choose to send their kids to. A higher percentage of minority kids attend these schools than “white” kids, but have better educational results according to the studies. Not sure what this should have to do with us funding our form of public schools. Should our public schools copy Indianapolis’ system? The answer to that is a big; PERHAPS.

  5. I think I am split on this one I’ll vote yes for the buildings but no on the other one governments answer to everything is more taxes but the more taxes don’t really improve things then they come back again for more money, gonna have to show me improvement before I will vote for greater spending.

  6. This is a definite yes for our family and a no-brainer. We voted no the last time around for the simple fact we wanted to see the McCleary decision work its way through the system and give time for those dollars to flow in. The timing of the request at that point was just poor and the marketing and arguments in support were based on flawed math and at a time of exponential home assessment increases. In addition, people are conflating the issue of COVID related closures and declining scores and overall educational outcomes. Right or wrong, those decisions are mostly to blame, not the kids or teachers. Our choice now is to throw our hands up in the air, give up on public education and our kids, and just leave it to the teachers and kids to pick up the pieces; or show them they are worth our collective investment. Our family for one, doesn’t think that the former is the right approach. The schools in question are an embarrassment to the community at this stage in their lifespan anyway, and need to be replaced to ensure the future of our community. We have been incredibly proud of the ESD and the partnership they have shown in the growth of our children. This fiscal conservative at least, is happy to pay it back.

  7. I went to the College Place Middle School tour on Jan 22. I do not have children. I live 1/2 mile from the school. Based on the abysmal condition of the buildings, the grounds, and the classrooms, if I were a student at CPM, I’d give up. I would wonder if anyone cared about the students. There are dozens and dozens of code violations that need to be addressed and corrected. Any other private or public buildings would be shut down.

  8. My understanding is that the ESD owns the land Costco, Home Depot and others are leasing; and that the ESD receives yearly payments from these companies. According to this article https://www.heraldnet.com/news/plans-being-developed-for-surplus-school-land/ those funds “By law, money from the purchase or lease of the properties must be used for construction projects, such as the renovation of schools” Do actually need more money than what is already coming in from these leases?

    1. The article you reference clearly states the financial agreements for those leases/sales. It’s also obvious even if you didn’t know a single thing about construction that those funds aren’t enough to build these schools. So yes… they need the money if we want to build these schools. I’m not intentionally trying to be snide in my reply, but pointing out that this is not even in the same universe let alone planet of possibilities, despite the question being valid.

    1. As to rebuilding College Place Middle School, if inflation on building materials and labor continue at the current pace, then spending the dollars now on improving the school would be of better use than waiting until the costs go up in 5 years. As to the problem of inflation as a whole, we should demand that the federal reserve banking system working hand in glove with federal government deficit spending be reigned in.

  9. From what I have read (here and elsewhere), the school physical and technical infrastructure is ancient and needs urgent upgrade or replacement. This makes sense to me and I will be voting YES to APPROVE.

    That said, I am somewhat disappointed by the mediocre performance levels that are being reported. Hopefully there are other improvements (beyond just more money) that can be pursued to address these shortcomings and give our district’s children the best educational opportunities. I wonder if there examples of other districts with similar problems that have executed effective solutions that we can emulate?

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