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

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