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“Fact-check the Buzz about the Bond” FAQ

Highline Public Schools this week released a ‘Fact-check the Buzz about the Bond’ FAQ, intended to clarify some misconceptions about the upcoming School Bond on the Nov. 8 ballot.

“We’ve heard some myths and misinformation in the community about the Highline bond,” the district said. “Here are some of the statements going around – and the facts.”

Remember to get your ballot in by Tuesday, Nov. 8!

“The school district can do anything it wants with the bond money.”

Legally, the district cannot spend bond money on anything not identified in the bond resolution. Bond money cannot be diverted to any operational costs, such as salaries for teachers or administrators, programs, or materials.

“The district laid off a lot of facilities workers and let school buildings fall into disrepair.”

During 2008-2010, when all school districts and all departments were making budget cuts, Highline did reduce maintenance and custodial positions in order to keep cuts away from the classroom. We have since built staffing back to the level we need to care for our buildings. For a district the size of Highline, the state recommends a total of 149 full time positions in maintenance and custodial staffing. Highline currently has 144 full time positions.

We have reduced staffing in some categories, such as full time painters, because schools replaced as a result of the 2002 and 2006 bonds have fewer painted surfaces.

“As property values go up, the district collects more and more money.”

The district cannot collect more than the dollar amount approved by voters. If property values increase, the bond tax rate goes down, so the dollar amount paid by the homeowner does not increase.

“We should not run another bond until existing bonds are paid off.”

Voter-approved bonds are the only way to pay for school construction and renovation. The state does not provide capital funds for schools, except as a partial match after voters approve a bond. Bonds are financed over about 20 years, like a home mortgage, so in order to stay on top of capital needs, school districts must run bonds every few years. This means that bonds overlap. When a bond is paid off, the tax is discontinued.

“The district never asked if our community can afford this tax increase.”

It is up to each individual voter to decide where this bond fits in his or her own spending priorities. It is the school district’s duty to present the needs of students to the voters.

School districts have no other option for funding capital needs except voter-approved bonds. The state does not provide capital funds for schools, except as a partial match.

“The north end of the school district will get nothing from this bond.”

Every school in the district will get security improvements that will make all students safer. Electronic locks will be installed on every classroom door, so doors can be locked immediately in case of emergency. Video surveillance systems in every school will be upgraded to up-to-date technology.

The bond includes dollars to design a new Evergreen High School, as well as Tyee and Pacific campuses, so that these projects are shovel-ready when a future bond is passed. This will save taxpayers $23 million dollars and speed up the construction schedule by about two years.

“The Capital Facilities Advisory Committee (CFAC) was a PR stunt.”

Former Burien city council member and CFAC Co-chair Rose Clark summed it up this way: “The [district] staff is like our employee. We direct them in what the committee needs to move forward. If I did not feel this process was community driven, I would resign.”

See what other CFAC members say about the process in this video.

While not every member agreed with every aspect of the bond package developed by CFAC, the school board accepted CFAC’s recommendation and placed it on the ballot unchanged.

Original article on BTown Blog

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Top 10 Facts About The Highline Bond

  1. Our students need room to learn. Our enrollment is growing, and our elementary schools are crowded. We need more classrooms for the additional students coming to us in the next 10 years and for lower class sizes now.
  2. Our students need safe schools. This bond will make students safer. It improves security by upgrading the video surveillance system at every school in the district and installing electronic locks on every classroom door. It rebuilds our oldest schools, which do not meet today’s fire and earthquake standards. That’s one of the reasons why King County Sherriff Urquhart endorsed the bond.
  3. A community-led group, known as the Citizens Facilities Advisory Committee, developed a long-term plan to ensure students have room to learn. This $299 million bond is part of a three-phase facilities plan developed by citizens from across the district. It is a fiscally responsible approach that puts our most urgent needs first and capitalizes on state matching funds.
  4. Voter-approved bonds are the only way to fund school construction and renovation. The state does not provide dollars for building schools. State match is available only after voters pass a bond.
  5. Only our most urgent needs are included in the November 8th bond package. This bond package will provide funding to replace our oldest schools, make renovations and repairs that are cost-effective, build needed classroom space and make safety improvements district-wide. Projects include:
    1. Rebuild Highline High School, saving as much of the façade as financially and structurally feasible.
    2. Build a new elementary school to serve Des Moines Elementary students, with room for growing enrollment.
    3. Construct a new middle school to serve the growing student population now in our elementary schools and provide broader educational opportunities for sixth graders.
    4. Begin design of Tyee and Evergreen High Schools and Pacific Middle School, saving $23 million and jumpstarting the construction process when a future bond is passed.
    5. Install electronic door looks on every classroom and security cameras at schools that don’t have them.
    6. Replenish the depleted fund for critical needs and emergency repairs.
  6. The bond addresses our most urgent needs while keeping costs to taxpayers low. The measure would raise $299 million for capital improvements, repairs and construction. The estimated cost to the homeowner starting in 2018 is 79 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. Use the Bond Cost Calculator on our home page.
  7. We will be eligible for state matching funds to make our local investment go even further. If passed, the district will receive nearly $60 million in state matching funds and will be eligible for additional funding to lower class sizes once additional classrooms are built.
  8. Highline Public Schools has a track record of fiscal responsibility. Every project funded by voter-approved bonds in 2002 and 2006 was completed on budget. HPS qualified for millions of dollars in state, Port, and federal matching funds. Through good financial management and wise use of matching dollars, HPS was able to build three additional schools beyond the ones funded by the 2002 and 2006 bonds. By refinanciing past bonds, HPS has saved taxpayers nearly $12.5 million.
  9. Senior citizens and disabled property owners can receive a property-tax deduction. For details, visit the King County Department of Assessment, Taxpayer Assistance – Tax Relief webpage and go to the Senior Citizens/Disabled Exemption section or call 206-296-3920.
  10. You can make our kids, schools and community stronger by voting Yes for Prop 1 / Highline Schools bond by November 8th! Please join your neighbors on voting yes on page 2 of your ballot.

Download the PDF version of Top 10 Facts About The Highline Bond

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KIRO7: Once again, Highline schools in fight for bond measure

BURIEN, Wash. – UPDATE: We originally reported a quote from an opponent, stating that taxes would increase as property values increase. That was referring to potential future bonds. When referring to only this bond, as property values increase, and as more properties are added to the tax roll, the rate would decrease. The taxes a household pays for this specific bond would then likely stay the same or decrease year to year.

Two dozen parents, students and supporters in the Highline School District rallied Monday afternoon for a bond measure they say is badly needed.

The bond has failed with voters twice before.

To pass, it needs two-thirds support, and last year, it narrowly lost with 55 percent of the vote.

This time, the bond initiative is for $299 million, compared to the February 2015 bond for $376 million and the November 2014 bond for $385 million, both of which failed.

The new amount would cost $395 per year for the owner of a $500,000 house.

Supporters use Highline High School in Burien as an example for why the bond is needed, since the school is more than 90 years old. The last remodel was done in 1989.

Continue reading on KIRO7 website

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Highline Times: Vote approaches for Highline bond

District wants $299 million

By Lindsay Peyton

A group of students and their families from Highline Public Schools stood on a street corner in Burien on Monday, Oct. 24 waiving signs that read “Vote Yes!”

Yet their support of the school’s proposed budget has not come without challenges.

Among those supporters of the upcoming bond, which is up for a vote on Election Day, was 17-year old Benji Box, a senior at Highline High.

Even though Box is graduating next year, he wants the next group of students to enjoy the benefits of the improvements that would take place if the bond is approved.

“I think we need a better school for future students, so they can be ready to go to the next level and be prepared to do whatever they want after they graduate,” he said.

Box does not believe that the existing campus will stand the test of time. “It’s just an old building and it doesn’t have the infrastructure it needs,” he said.

The $299 million bond would address a number of similar needs throughout the district,
Highline spokeswoman Catharine Carbone Rogers said.

The proposed bond is based on recommendations developed by the Capital Facilities Advisory Committee, a 39-member, community-based group that assessed district needs.

The committee recommended reserving $93.3 million for a new middle school on the district’s Galcier site, $49 million for a new school on the district’s Zenith site to house Des Moines Elementary students and $103.3 million for a complete remodel of Highline High.

The proposal also calls for $18.5 million in improvements to the Olympic site so it can be used to house students during construction projects, as well as $14 million for building design of upgrades to the Evergreen, Tyee and Pacific campuses.

The bond would also set aside $19 million to replenish the capital fund and $2.65 million for security improvements to all campuses.

Carbone Rogers explained that the tax impact of the proposed bond would be an estimated 79 cents per $1,000 assessed valuation.

She said the funding would cover needed expansions to ease overcrowding.

“We have been experiencing growing enrollment for several years,” she said. “We have 2,500 additional students coming in the next 10 years and will need 80 more classrooms. We have to do something to create space for all the students we know are coming.”

Carbone Rogers said the district has been using portable buildings to accommodate growth for a while.

“In many places, we have the maximum number of portables allowed under city code,” she said.

Carbone Rogers added that capacity is still limited based on common spaces on campus.

“The schools are built for a certain amount of students,” she said. “If you have more, it overwhelms the core facilities – restrooms, cafeterias and hallways.”

Enrollment projections are based on demographic studies performed by a third party, Carbone Rogers explained.

“We haven’t passed a bond in 10 years,” she said. “Our capital fund is almost dry. It will be gone by the end of the year.”

Carbone Rogers said that if the bond does not pass, any emergency repairs would be paid out of the district’s general fund.

“We would be taking money that could be spent in classrooms, if we had to repair a roof or broiler,” she said.

That’s a risk a number of residents would rather not take, according to Chad Harper, who lives in the area. He served as a member of the Citizens Facilities Advisory Committee and as a Yes for Highline volunteer.

He explained that a number of the schools have structural issues. “This is just something that has to be fixed,” he said. “These are not conditions children can learn in.”

Harper believes that the bond focuses on the most critical needs of the district.

“I don’t have children yet, but this is the district where my kids are going to go,” he said. “And I want it to be the best it can be. Our schools should be the crown jewel of the community.”

But a number of residents are also speaking out against the bond.

Bob Pond, who lives in Des Moines, voiced his concerns at a recent city council meeting in Burien.

“This is the third time that Highline school district has asked us for similar bonds.,’ he said. “They’ve failed two times. How many times do we have to say no? This is no time to stack bonds on top of bonds with no end in sight. “

Karen Steele, with Sensible Spending on Schools, believes the price tag for the bond is high.

“Originally the administrator wanted $378 million and didn’t get it,” Steele said. “Now she wants $489 million — split into three bonds, all to be passed within six years.”

Steele said her main concern is accountability. “We don’t know where the money is going,” she said. “They’re very secretive.”

Steele also questions the ability of the district to manage the appropriations wisely. She said that administrators are pointing to structural problems in schools – but fired 33 maintenance workers and six painters, who could have kept campuses in better shape.

“Highline School District let the paint peel,” she said. “They let the roof leak. Why didn’t they fix it? It’s the same with the mold and the rodents. Why didn’t they fix it?
It is the school district’s responsibility to give children a clean environment in which to learn.”

Steele said that the district has simply not been a good standard of past budgets. “The administration gets the raises and the assistance they need, but our teachers and our children go wanting,” she said. “Where’s the transparency?”

More than anything, Steele wonders if the community can afford the raise in property taxes that would come with the bond.

“The most important question is how much can the Highline community afford,” she said “It has never been asked, and it should be the very first question on the agenda.
I support a no vote until we have accountability, responsibility and transparency for our hard-earned tax dollars. People are tired of being taxed to death without getting the accountability they deserve.”

Voters will decide the outcome during the election on Nov. 8.

For more information on Highline Public Schools, visit

Original article on Highline Times

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BTown Blog: LETTER: Former Burien Councilmember on School Bond in Voter’s Pamphlet

Dear Friends,

I sat down today to fill out my ballot. I knew I needed time because this ballot is long, very long. I first read the King County Voter’s Pamphlet. Whoa!! I had to read the Highline Bond to Reconstruct Schools twice and then had to reflect. It looked funny so I munched my M & Ms and figured out why. It looks like I am an author on the pro statement for the bond as well as an author of the con rebuttal to the pro statement. My head was spinning. But after looking carefully I think it is just a matter of understanding that the authors are listed in the text boxes and that the con side is quoting me on one important issue – “it needs to be logical and affordable to us.” It is a statement that the CFAC took to heart right down to the very last minute. That quote from a video along with all of the data CFAC studies is available on the Highline District website.

The technology on this bond is only for safety measures: electronically controlled doors, to lock classrooms down during an emergency situation. The total cost of this technology is $2.5 M and will last for years. These measures even decreases the costs of security on an annual basis. As we try to follow emerging advice about making our homes safer how can we deny that safety to our kids and teachers at school? That’s one of the reasons Sheriff Urquhart endorsed the bond.

There is only one bond that we are voting on not a series. The CFAC, made up of your neighbors, were charged with studying the professional engineering studies of each of our schools and recommend a process to improve them. CFAC developed a fiscally responsible long term plan that spreads our school district’s needs over 20 years to make it affordable for the taxpayers. Since the state does not fund capital improvements, voter approved bonds are the only way to fund school construction and renovation. All districts must ask voters to invest in schools periodically, just as you must invest in maintenance and repairs on your home every few years.

We are lucky in this Highline community to have people step up and say “I will help work to find a way forward to make all of our schools safe and education friendly.” A future committee of Highline folks will put the finishing touches on that future bond when the economy is right. This community does put children first.

My kids and grandkids are all grown and out of school. But as an empty nester I know that my responsibilities to our community’s children is not over. I admire the WWII generation that built schools for us and our children to attend – schools that now need to be replaced. The Highline schools bond addresses our most urgent needs, including overcrowding and safety issues while keeping costs to taxpayers low.

Please join me and many of your neighbors in voting Yes for Highline/Prop 1 on the second page of your ballot.

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

Original article on Btown Blog

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LETTER: Why not build new schools instead of new prisons?

To the editor of Highline Times:

I hope my Normandy Park neighbors will carefully consider the benefits of passing the Highline School District Proposition 1.   Highline residents have not passed a levy for 10 years and prior to that there were many years when levy after levy failed.  Anyone suggesting that our school district is at fault for not properly maintaining our aging schools after years of neglected funding is woefully unaware why supporting our schools now is so crucial.

Asking the owner of a house assessed at $500,000 to pay $33 more per month in annual property tax is not unreasonable.  No one likes paying higher taxes but everyone likes having higher property values and the quality of our school district directly impacts property values.  If our schools don’t measure up to schools in surrounding cities, Normandy Park loses potential buyers to Mercer Island, Bellevue and others areas with highly ranked school districts.

Providing the best possible education for our future leaders is wise since today’s students will determine our future when we are no longer able to make those decisions for ourselves.  Refusing to support our schools is very short sighted.  Perhaps we can learn from communities who have already discovered that if you don’t want to pay to build new schools you will ultimately pay more to build new prisons.  The choice you make will affect everyone for many years to come.

Vicki Johnson,
Normandy Park

Original article on Highline Times

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Q13Fox: Highline Public Schools supporters try again to pass Proposition 1

BURIEN, Wash. — Run-down schools and overcrowding are just some of the issues supporters of Highline Public Schools say passing Proposition 1 will fix.

The last two bond measures have failed, but supporters are hoping third times the charm.

It will take 60 percent of the vote on November 8 to get the bond measure to pass. Supporters say as the district grows, it’s more important than ever, while opponents tell me more taxes is the last thing this community needs.

With their enthusiasm and energy, supporters of proposition one like Highline High Senior Benji Box hope they can convince enough voters to vote ‘yes’ for Highline Public Schools.

“I really hope that us coming out and waving these signs will get us those extra 50, 60 voters to push us over that 60 percent edge,” said Box.

Among those holding signs was Aaron Garcia, who admits he voted ‘no’ for the schools’ bond measures in the past, until he joined a community advisory board to re-write the measure this year.

“Once I was able to really realize that it’s just bigger than just my school, it was easy to get behind,” said Garcia.

This time around, the bond asks for $299 million dollars that will come in three phases. Phase one would replace Highline High and Des Moines Elementary, build a new middle school and expand elementary classrooms.

“We have overcrowded classrooms, we don’t have enough space for all our kids,” said Washington State Senator Karen Keiser. “It’s a growing school district, and it’s a high needs school district.”

If passed, it would mean approximately $.79 for $1000 of assessed property value.

However, not everyone is convinced that people in the Highline District can afford it, like Karen Steele, who is leading up efforts to vote ‘no.’ She says she wants to know how the district let the schools fall into disrepair in the first place.

Senator Keiser says she understands the concerns, but she and other supporters believe a vote for highline public schools is a vote in favor of the whole community.

“Everybody is concerned about taxes, but we’re also concerned about our kids, and our schools and our communities,” said Senator Keiser.

“If you go through with the bond and people get a better education in your neighborhood as a result and so it seems a logical choice, just vote ‘yes.’

If this bond passes, it will be the first time Highline has done so in ten years.

Read the article on Q13Fox

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BTown Blog: Seattle Southside Chamber of Commerce endorses Highline School bond

The Seattle Southside Chamber of Commerce announced on Friday (Oct. 21) that it is endorsing Prop. 1, the Highline School Bond on the Nov. 8 ballot.

Here’s more from the chamber:

The Seattle Southside Chamber of Commerce is an active member of the South Sound Chambers of Commerce Legislative Coalition. Together, with the Association of Washington Business, the Chamber advocates locally and regionally for the best interests of our business community and our members.

One of the Chamber’s 2017 legislative priorities is to support human infrastructure. The most valuable resource in the South Sound region is the people who live and work here. Our businesses and communities can only prosper with the right investments that improve the ability for people to thrive and find jobs. Finding a balanced approach to fully fund education that does not adversely impact the economy of the state or our South Sound region is paramount to the economic vitality of our region…

Continue reading on BTown Blog

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“The safety and security of our students is of the utmost priority in King County. Part of that work is making sure school buildings are as safe as we can make them. I endorse the Highline Public Schools Prop. 1 bond on Nov. 8 because it will help make each school safer. The bond’s safety measures will help students and teachers focus on what they need to do in the classroom. I urge residents in Highline Public Schools to vote yes on this critical bond measure.”

View more endorsements from local community members.

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3 King County school districts have bond measures on ballot

Three King County school districts have school-construction bond measures on the November ballot, including Highline Public Schools, which hasn’t passed a bond measure in a decade.

This time around, that district created a committee of 40 parents and community members that worked for a year to decide what to include in the proposed measure. That committee focused on how to lower the amount of the request, said Chad Harper, a committee member and volunteer with the Yes for Highline campaign.

This year, it’s asking for $299.9 million, lower than the $385 million it sought in 2014 and the $376 million in 2015. The new measure is lower in part because it includes one new middle school rather than two.

“We tried to do as much as we could for less money,” said Harper, who lives in Des Moines. “I think it’s a great return on investments.”

If passed, the money raised by the bond would go toward building new schools and remodeling others. Highline High School, which is more than 90 years old, would be rebuilt, for example, and Olympic Elementary would be renovated. The district also would construct a new middle school, and a new elementary to replace Des Moines Elementary, also nearly a century old. And it would develop designs for future rebuilds of Pacific Middle School, and Evergreen and Tyee high schools.

Continue reading the full article on Seattle Times

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