In my last column, I wrote about my gratitude to district voters for passing the Educational Programs & Operations Levy and the Capital Projects Levy. These tax levies, paid by taxpayers from Juanita to Sammamish and everywhere in between, benefit all students in the district.
Since then, as I’ve communicated to parents via email, the school board voted to place a bond measure on the April 2014 ballot. This measure is smaller than the one that received support from 58% of district voters in February. It is designed to meet the district’s most critical and urgent need for additional classroom space to accommodate our rapidly growing enrollment.
In fact, we are the 6th largest district, and one of the fastest growing school districts in the state. We are proud of the fact that people want to live, work, and send their children to school in the Lake Washington School District. As a high-performing district, it is gratifying that so many families want to move to this area and attend district schools. At the same time, it is a challenge to keep up with our growing enrollment. Since our sources of funds for new school buildings are limited, we must rely on local funds levied through property taxes to pay for school construction.
In Washington State, there is a heavy reliance on local funds to support basic education, to fund technology and facility maintenance, and to fund construction of new school and classroom space. Our district serves a large community and three cities: Kirkland, Redmond, and Sammamish. Our community asks great questions, and the upcoming bond measure provides the district with a wonderful opportunity to engage parents and community members, and to inform our stakeholders about everything from school construction funding to enrollment projections to what goes into a school building.
As a parent, you have received information directly from the district about these topics and you will receive additional information in the near future. We don’t want to overwhelm you with communication and information, but at the same time, it is our responsibility to provide in-depth information about the different aspects of school facilities planning as it relates to the April bond measure.
We value transparency and accountability, and we understand and embrace our responsibility to provide factual, documented, publicly available information to the communities whom we serve. Since we are getting questions about many different topics, we want to make sure we provide the basic information to everyone and provide links to additional details.
I know you are very busy, and I appreciate you taking the time to learn more about the upcoming bond measure. Click here to view the district webpage dedicated to providing information on the April measure. Please remember to vote! Mail your ballot or put it in an election drop box by April 22.
Dr. Traci Pierce
Lake Washington School District