By Terry Lee, Former Pierce County Councilmember (R) and Derek Young, Current Pierce County Councilmember (D)
The Peninsula School District has not passed a school bond since 2003, and the district’s 15 schools are unsafe and overcrowded. This is a critical point in our community’s future: voters should join us in bipartisan support for April’s Capital Facilities bond, and make an investment in Peninsula schools.
The facts are alarming when it comes to safety and security. Eleven of 15 schools do not meet current fire code. Alarms, sprinklers and fire flow do not meet current code and have been grandfathered in.
When we compare our low tax rates to school districts with similar assessed values, it is more than clear that we are falling behind on facilities. We are losing out on state funds, as local funds must be secured before the state will match.
Without a capital measure in 15 years, the district has not been able to build a new elementary school in over 25 years. Instead, we keep adding temporary fixes, like unsecure portable classrooms where students are removed from the main building. At the same time, we are taking away playgrounds and parking lots and adding to traffic congestion around schools.
The district has been extraordinarily responsible with the 2003 bond money, which is set to expire in 2019. Levy and bond monies must be spent where they are designated, and an audit committee and the state make sure of this.
Because of recent changes to state funding, if this bond passes, local tax rates will still go down. But if we do not pass April’s bond, we will be investing zero in capital projects for school facilities by the end of 2019.
This is a transcript from a Letter to the Editor published in the Tacoma News Tribune on April 5, 2018.