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B-TOWN BLOG ENDORSES: Vote YES on the Highline School Bond Nov. 8

For the first time in our nearly nine-year history, we’ve decided to endorse a political issue – we are encouraging all our Readers to vote “YES” on Proposition No. 1 for Highline Public Schools on Nov. 8.

There is no other mechanism to fund local public school construction, modernization or updates than to vote for this new, voter-approved School Bond measure.

And yes, we admit that we are biased, as we have a very personal stake in this issue – our two children have both been educated at local schools, and our youngest is now a student at the decaying Highline High School.

We strongly believe that education is vital to a community’s health. The more educated a populace is, the better and stronger the community.

But we also know from personal experience how difficult it is to learn in a building that’s literally rotting and falling apart. While in class, our oldest child is continually exposed to mold, falling ceiling tiles, rodents, leaks, cracked and broken windows, a bad heating system and much more (including overcrowding) – it’s not a very good place to learn.

This bond – created by a group of 40 area residents over numerous study sessions – will begin a much needed process of modernization and investment in the infrastructure of our community.

It will ease overcrowding in our schools. Our entire south King County area has experienced strong population growth. There is little evidence to suggest that this growth will not continue in the coming years, given that “Seattle, for the third consecutive year, is among the Top 5 big cities for population growth, according to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau,” as reported in The Seattle Times. It is a logical conclusion that our school district will continue to grow as a result of our proximity to Seattle.

One of the intentions of this bond is to rebuild the 93-year old Highline High School to accommodate between 1500-1700 students. According to the King County Assessor’s Office, that school has a current enrollment of 1384, and we think the projected capacity is reasonable.

This bond is the first in a tiered plan to modernize and strengthen school capital facilities over the next 20 years. It includes funds to begin the design of new and modernized campuses for Tyee and Evergreen High Schools. Given growth projections, now is the time to begin this process. This bond is also eligible for some matching funds, any amount of which is a benefit to the community regardless of size.

All schools across the district are planned to benefit from much-needed new safety and security improvements, including electronic locks on classroom doors and security cameras. Currently, many doors have to be locked from the outside with a key – meaning the teacher has to open the door and exit the room to lock it down.

The small schools concepts currently found at the former Tyee and Evergreen campuses will also receive a variety of upgrades to their science and lab facilities, restrooms and interior surfaces. To make the assertion that the residents in the north end are “getting nothing” from this measure is patently false.

It was created by the community-led Capital Facilities Advisory Committee (CFAC) after a lengthy and thoughtful process, which included a group of 40 citizens and business leaders, the majority of whom were randomly selected from a pool of 200 applicants. The committee even included individuals who had vocally opposed the last two bond attempts. The opportunity to voice concerns and desires has been given, with issues of equity and affordability, given debate and address. The committee prioritized the greatest need and moved to address those first. This $299 million bond proposal is approximately 29% lower that the bond presented two years ago, which bore a $385 million price tag.

For the majority of homeowners, this is actually an affordable bond. According to The King County Assessors Office, the average assessed value of homes in the Highline School District for the 2016 tax year is approximately $282,000. The district estimates that the bond will add .79 to current property taxes. This means the average homeowner will experience an annual increase of $222.78. While it is true that families with above average home values will pay more, it is not true to suggest that this bond will create an enormous tax burden for most homeowners or renters.

Everyone needs a “rainy day fund,” and this bond replenishes the emergency fund which is projected to be exhausted in 2017-18.This fund covers critical needs and emergency repairs.

A bond measure builds schools, and by law funds can only be used for the construction and related costs. A much-encouraged “Yes” vote on this bond is an endorsement of our community’s investment in our future – our children. It should not be confused with an endorsement of current school policies, including controversial ones. Voters should move consciously to distinguish the difference between these two issues. Those who are concerned about policy decisions must remain engaged, voice concerns and demand accountability. Children and our greater community are the losers when we confuse these issues and relegate them to crowded, unsafe, outdated classrooms and schools.

Like during previous school bond election seasons, there’s a LOT of misinformation being spread by those who are against schools. We encourage all citizens to question these claims, ask for sources, and (like a good student) DO YOUR HOMEWORK.

Remember:

  • Voter-approved bonds (like this) are the only way to build and improve schools. Bonds like this are not affiliated with staff salaries.
  • If property values rise, tax rates decrease, so the dollar amount property owners pay remains the same. The district does not receive a windfall if property values go up.
  • School bonds are financed over 20 years, and must overlap to keep up with instructional needs, growth and security.
  • This bond will reduce important issues like overcrowding and safety issues, while keeping future costs down for taxpayers.
  • Voting down another bond not only hurts our kids – it affects our entire region – and will cost taxpayers (and the community) more in the long run.

To pass, this measure requires a 60% majority – so please…VOTE YES!

Original article on B-Town Blog

superlativeB-TOWN BLOG ENDORSES: Vote YES on the Highline School Bond Nov. 8
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The Times recommends: Approve Highline Public Schools bond

Overcrowded, outdated Highline Public Schools needs voter support for a new construction bond.

HIGHLINE Public Schools is bursting at the seams after growing by 1,500 students in the past five years. With buildings that are, at best, outdated and, at worst, crumbling, the district’s need to build new classrooms is urgent.

Highline is asking voters to approve a bond measure this November that is laser-focused on eliminating overcrowding and increasing safety throughout the district. It would raise property taxes in Burien, Des Moines, Normandy Park, SeaTac, Boulevard Park and White Center by 79 cents per $1,000 in assessed property valuation. For a home value of $250,000, that translates to an additional $197 a year. Voters should approve this modest proposal.

The proposal would rebuild the 93-year-old Highline High School, provide safety and security upgrades at every school in the district, build a new middle school and add classrooms to elementary schools. The district has 39 schools and educates 19,600 students in grades K-12.

Highline failed twice the last time it asked voters to approve school-construction bond issues during the 2014-15 school year. One ballot measure lost by just over 200 votes.

This time, district officials took a creative approach that other school districts should emulate. They asked citizens interested in school-construction plans to put their name in the running for a new citizens advisory committee and then — here’s the unusual part — the 40 committee members were randomly chosen from more than 200 volunteers. The group, made up of people from across the community, including nonparents who voted against the last bond measure, met for more than a year to discuss the school district’s building needs.

The district showed these citizens all the data they had on school overcrowding and building needs and asked for advice on what priorities they would set for school construction. The result is a bond proposal that is trimmed down to $299 million from $385 million two years ago and is focused on the highest priorities. Wisely, some money would be put aside for emergency needs and planning for other construction projects that could come up for a vote in the future.

Through the community process, the district gained dozens of well-informed advocates who understand why voters need to raise local taxes to alleviate the district’s severe overcrowding.

Highline Public Schools has demonstrated that a little trust plus a lot of information can make a big difference in building authentic community support. With this process, the district has earned the voter’s confidence. This bond measure merits a yes vote.

Original article on The Times

highlinecfsThe Times recommends: Approve Highline Public Schools bond
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LETTER: Former Burien Councilmember: ‘Why I’m voting yes for schools Nov. 8’

Why I’m voting yes for schools Nov. 8:

As a member of Highline’s Capital Facilities Advisory Committee (CFAC), I have spent the past year on a mission: To address overcrowding in the Highline School District and ensure good, safe schools for all students. That’s why I am urging you to vote yes on Proposition 1, which will appear on the Nov. 8 general election ballot

Enrollment in Highline schools has increased by 1,500 students in the past five years alone, with no slowdown in sight. After a thorough study, our committee created Proposition 1. It’s a smart, efficient, long-term approach that prioritizes our most urgent needs and tackles the problem in three phases, to help keep costs down for taxpayers.

Proposition 1 was created by CFAC, a group of 40 parents, community members, business owners and neighbors, not by politicians. It is supported by the Highline School Board because it reflects what individual schools need at the neighborhood level, designed by people who know best.

This bond measure provides additional classroom space so our children have the best opportunities to learn, and make room for lower class sizes. We will build a new Highline High School, a new middle school, and a new elementary school for Des Moines. Proposition 1 includes money to design new schools at Evergreen, Tyee and Pacific, so we can build them more quickly and efficiently in the next phase.

All students across the district will benefit from safety improvements, including centralized locks and improved surveillance cameras. Aging schools do not meet modern fire or earthquake codes and lack technology to monitor people coming and going. This measure will address those safety and security concerns.

Proposition 1 saves money in the long run by dealing with problems now when they are cheaper to fix. If we pass it, the state will provide matching funds. The timing of this bond proposition is a win-win for taxpayers.

It’s clear that voter-approved bonds are the only way to build schools. Bonds are financed over 20 years and must overlap to keep up with instructional needs, growth and security.

This bond will reduce overcrowding and address safety issues, while keeping costs down for taxpayers. Delaying hurts kids and costs taxpayers more in the long run.

Good schools benefit the whole community. Join me in voting yes on Proposition 1 Nov. 8.

– Rose Clark
Capital Facilities Advisory Committee member
Yes for Highline campaign volunteer, Highline Public Schools
Former Burien City Councilmember

Original letter on B-Town Blog. View Rose’s endorsement of Yes for Highline! and other endorsements from the local community.

highlinecfsLETTER: Former Burien Councilmember: ‘Why I’m voting yes for schools Nov. 8’
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LETTER: Highline School District Teacher endorses Nov. 8 School Bond

As a Highline School District teacher, I see firsthand how our district’s rapid growth is impacting our kids’ educational opportunities.

Our classrooms are overcrowded, and unless we come up with a solution, this problem is only going to get worse. The Highline School District has grown by 1,500 students in the past five years alone, and projections show that our enrollment will continue to increase.

In fact, at Parkside Elementary School, where I teach, we are over the allowed enrollment numbers in nearly every grade level.  Rather than have to uproot children and families to make class size appropriate, we’d much prefer to keep our kids and actually have a place for them. But our school isn’t even the most in need of support from our community.

That’s why I’m enthusiastically supporting the Highline School District’s Nov. 8 Proposition 1 bond measure. It improves our students’ educational opportunities while prioritizing our most urgent needs to keep costs down for taxpayers. It will save money in the long run by dealing with problems now when they are cheaper to fix.

It also ensures student and teacher safety by updating our schools to meet modern fire and earthquake codes, and adds technology to monitor who is coming and going.

You can learn more at www.yesforhighline.org.

Please join me in supporting our schools, our students and our teachers. Vote “yes” on Highline School District Proposition 1.

Sincerely,
Thara Cooper
Parkside Elementary School
Highline School District

Original article on B-Town Blog.

highlinecfsLETTER: Highline School District Teacher endorses Nov. 8 School Bond
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Q13 Fox: Highline school district asking for public input on $299M bond initiative

DES MOINES, Wash. — Highline Public Schools is asking voters to approve $299 million in a new bond initiative on the ballot in November.

It’s a big price tag, but the district hasn’t passed a bond in 10 years.

So now it’s going in a new direction to try to involve the community.

“We heard people wanted more information, they wanted more specifics,” said Highline Public Schools Superintendent Susan Enfield.

Continue reading the full article on Q13Fox.com

highlinecfsQ13 Fox: Highline school district asking for public input on $299M bond initiative
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B-Town Blog VIDEO: ‘Vote YES for Highline Public Schools’ kicks off Nov. 2016 campaign

On the front steps of Burien’s deteriorating Highline High School on Saturday (July 23), families, residents, students and teachers came together to help kick-off Highline Public Schools’ Nov. 8 bond.

“Now is the time, we must join together to support our students and schools here in the Highline School District,” said Chuck Tuman, campaign co-chair. “We have a strong plan, developed by a citizen committee, to meet the immediate needs of our district, and also plan for the future.”

Speakers at the kick-off – which was hosted by Tuman – included Sen. Karen Keiser, Highline High alum Maya Mendoza-Exstrom, and Benji Box, a current student:

Here’s a video of the kick-off event:

Continue reading the full article on B-Town Blog.

highlinecfsB-Town Blog VIDEO: ‘Vote YES for Highline Public Schools’ kicks off Nov. 2016 campaign
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Q13Fox.com – “Vote Yes for Highline Schools” Bond Campaign Begins

BURIEN, Wash. – A building falling apart.  That’s the word from parents, students, and Highline Schools district leaders as they kicked off a “Vote Yes for Highline Schools” campaign.  It’s a call to action from the district that over the past ten years has been declined by voters.  District leaders say it’s critical a new bond initiative pass on the upcoming November ballot to give much needed funding to replace old buildings and provide better opportunities for learning.

“It’s just a big mess,” said Highline High Senior Benji Box.

Continue reading the full article on Q13Fox.com

highlinecfsQ13Fox.com – “Vote Yes for Highline Schools” Bond Campaign Begins
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PRESS RELEASE: Highline parents, students and community members kick off November 2016 campaign

Vote Yes for Highline Schools comes together to ensure enough space for students to learn

On the lawn of Highline High School Saturday, families and community members from White Center, Burien, Normandy Park, Seatac, and Des Moines came together to support Highline Public Schools’ Nov. 8 bond.

“Now is the time, we must join together to support our students and schools here in Highline School District,” said Chuck Tuman, campaign co-chair. “We have a strong plan, developed by a citizen committee, to meet the immediate needs of our district, and also plan for the future.”

Highline Public Schools is a fast-growing district with several school buildings in severe need of replacement or modernization.

More than 40 parents, community members and staff spent nearly a year studying the issues to make a recommendation to the Highline Public Schools to help alleviate the problems with capacity, security and modernization. The Capital Facilities Advisory Committee’s (CFAC) presented its recommendations to the School Board for a November 2016 bond, as well as a long-term facility plan for the future of our district.

“It was an amazing experience to dig deep into enrollment projections, facility needs and long-term plans and work together to come up with solutions,” said Susan West, Normandy Park citizen and member of the citizens’ committee. “I am proud of our recommendations to help meet the needs of our growing district and ensure our students are safe.”

CFAC’s plan outlines three phases of improvements over 15-18 years. Each phase would require a voter-approved bond to fund construction.

The committee identified four top-priority problems to be solved in Phase 1:

  • Elementary capacity – With growing enrollment and state funding for smaller class sizes, more elementary classrooms are needed.
  • Middle school capacity – Current middle schools do not have room to accommodate growing enrollment and the addition of sixth grade.
  • Des Moines Elementary – This 90-year-old school is ranked as the Highline school in worst condition in an independent survey by architects.
  • Highline High School – HHS is ranked in second worst condition in the same survey.

“We are looking for volunteers to help us ensure people are registered to vote, have the information they need to understand our bond and then vote YES in November,” Chuck said. “Please check out our website and join us in supporting our students and our schools.”

To register to vote, visit: www.vote.wa.gov

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Join us and Vote YES for Highline Public Schools
Paid for by the Highline Citizens for Schools
http://yesforhighline.org/
https://www.facebook.com/Yes4Highline/

highlinecfsPRESS RELEASE: Highline parents, students and community members kick off November 2016 campaign
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MEDIA ADVISORY: Highline parents, students and community members to kick off November 2016 campaign

Event on Saturday, July 23 to highlight the need for school improvements, classroom space

Families and community members from White Center, Burien, Normandy Park, Seatac, and Des Moines will join together in support of Highline Public Schools’ Nov. 8 bond at a campaign kick-off rally on Saturday, July 23.

“We are coming together to support our schools and make sure we are planning for the future,” said Chuck Tuman, campaign co-chair. “We know great schools make safe and thriving communities, and I hope our entire community comes together to vote YES on this important bond measure in November.”

What:             Vote Yes for Highline Schools kick-off event

When:            11 a.m. on Saturday, July 23

Where:           On the lawn of Highline High School, 225 S 152nd St, Burien

More than 40 parents, community members and staff spent nearly a year studying the issues to make a recommendation to the Highline Public Schools to help alleviate the problems with capacity, security and modernization. The Capital Facilities Advisory Committee’s (CFAC) presented its recommendations to the School Board for a November 2016 bond, as well as a long-term facility plan for the future of our district.

“It was an amazing experience to dig deep into enrollment projections, facility needs and long-term plans and work together to come up with solutions,” said Susan West, Nomandy Park citizen and member of the citizens’ committee. “I am proud of our recommendations to help meet the needs of our growing district and ensure our students are safe.”

CFAC’s plan outlines three phases of improvements over 15-18 years. Each phase would require a voter-approved bond to fund construction.

The committee identified four top-priority problems to be solved in Phase 1:

  • Elementary capacity – With growing enrollment and state funding for smaller class sizes, more elementary classrooms are needed.
  • Middle school capacity – Current middle schools do not have room to accommodate growing enrollment and the addition of sixth grade.
  • Des Moines Elementary – This 90-year-old school is ranked as the Highline school in worst condition in an independent survey by architects.
  • Highline High School – HHS is ranked in second worst condition in the same survey.

“We are looking for volunteers to help us ensure people are registered to vote, have the information they need to understand our bond and then vote YES in November,” Chuck said. “Please check out our website and join us in supporting our students and our schools.”

To register to vote, visit: www.vote.wa.gov

###

Join us and Vote YES for Highline Public Schools
Paid for by the Highline Citizens for Schools
http://yesforhighline.org/

https://www.facebook.com/Yes4Highline/

highlinecfsMEDIA ADVISORY: Highline parents, students and community members to kick off November 2016 campaign
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