Our school bond vote: a values question


January 23, 2020

To The Eagle:

The Wahkiakum School Bond measure is coming up for a vote and there appears to be a fair amount of misinformation out and about. The current high school building reached its predicted end-of-life 20 years ago, and should have been renewed then, but wasn't. The last bond, 20-plus years ago, upgraded the elementary school to the bare minimum, leaving the school district to absorb ongoing maintenance and ongoing repair costs from money that could have gone into instruction. The predicted cost of this bond, based on the school district taxing area current tax base, is no more than $3.37/thousand of assessed property value. We can each calculate what our cost is based on that. This is a lot for our community to shoulder. But, honestly, what is the alternative?

The return on this investment is all of our school district buildings lasting for another 40 years, bringing our buildings systems up to current standards, reducing our ongoing maintenance and building operating costs and using that savings to increase instruction, having a safe place for our community to shelter when large natural disaster strikes, and probably most importantly to most folks, continuing the center of the "Mule way of life" and traditions.

The school superintendent, Mr. Brent Freeman is happy to answer anyone's questions and to take folks on building tours. Call the district to schedule a time and day. The district has also scheduled tour and info dates for every Thursday and Friday for the next three weeks ,. starting at 4:30. Meet at the high school front office. He is also coming to visit with interest groups throughout the district, call the district office to schedule a time and date for your group. Finally, for those who really want to get into the deep details of school funding, financing, and the specific details of this bond, there is a meeting scheduled for January 29 at 7:00 p.m .; you may need to bring your calculator and geeky math cap to follow along.

So, in conclusion, get the information to make an informed decision. The district is going out of its way to make sure we all understand the bond measure, its costs and benefits. The school board has been working on this proposal since last summer and has come up with the best balance between fiscal responsibility on the one hand, and educational and community responsibility on the other. It is now up to each of us as voters to weigh this information and each make our decision based on our values. And vote.

I am retired on a fixed income. I have taken the school tour. I have reviewed the district's "bond fact book." I have made my decision. I am voting yes. What decided it for me was looking to the future: 1) if the school fails my property values go down which then forces my taxes to go up. An easy economic choice. 2) We have a great staff and student body and community that deserve facilities that are up to current standards.

Ron Wright

Puget Island


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