To the Editor:
my dismay and sadness that our community failed to pass the Bond last night.
, I do believe that the majority of the community is in agreement that our aging schools and other other public facilities have multiple problems which cannot be ignored. Having attended the planning meetings, I thought that the committee researched and articulated a sound and fiscally responsible plan.
Yesterday's message however, indicated that they failed in communicating their research, promoting their proposals, and ultimately convincing the electorate that these costs are justified.
In going forward, I would propose that we continue working with architects to provide architectural renderings of each school or project identified for improvement. Having a physical proposal to look at provides concrete evidence of what kind of changes will be done, why they are necessary and what it will actually look like. Perhaps having had such plans on display before the vote would have helped alleviate people's trepidation at entrusting their money to a project they couldn't visualize.
We also need to make a more convincing argument of why simply building a new elementary school is not a feasible solution. While it might alleviate some of the overcrowding, it also introduces a huge new financial burden on our taxpayers in order to fund teacher and staff salaries and the maintenance of the buildings and grounds. Most importantly, the addition of a new elementary school does nothing to address the urgent needs of the existing five schools, all of which need to be modernized and re-rehabilitated.
Lastly, any future proposals should include ways to mitigate or eliminate any increased tax for the senior citizens who are on a fixed income.
I am deeply disappointed that the Bond was not passed, however, the "NO" vote solves none of our pressing problems.
We have clearly squeezed all we can out of our aging schools and facilities. It is time that we re-invest in all of them and not settle for a quick fix solution which consumes precious time and money, and ultimately resolves little. Undoubtedly the proposed cost was large, but so too the long-term benefits. In beginning anew our discussion, we need to make a better case for those benefits and identify more clearly how and where the money would be spent. I hope we can move beyond the acrimony and work together in achieving everyone's goal of maintaining the high quality of life and the excellence of our schools which Mercer Island enjoys.