Letter: 'No' Vote Solved Nothing

Resident Marina Moscovici writes in a letter to the editor that residents should work anew and together to formulate a new bond to replace aging school buildings in the school district.

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.

Marina Moscovici

Blair Destro April 19, 2012 at 07:37 PM
We know there are teams that worked hard on the Yes side, I know they promoted this with ideas under a group where a few citizens of the community worked hard for the mass.  I know they opened up their group for initial applicants and few came forward.  The community as a whole didn't realize what was happening and how hard they worked debating amongst themselves before presenting it to the public.  When their hard work was presented to the public, the public realized what was happening and started paying attention, for the first time.  Some hoped you wouldn't pay attention, unless you were voting Yes.  Because if you were paying attention you'd see that the team worked hard but many of their ideas were shelved.  Some of them were defeated and disappointed, their important efforts sidelined.  But they hoped to end where they had started with an initial dream realized, something new, something exciting, a dream for the children, constructed well even if those with technical experience were voted down.  It was well sold and very well packaged unless you dared to dig deeper.  I was excited too, then worried about how it would all happen.  I could see the need, share the desire but was able to see behind the lines having the expertise at home informing me about the process, the detail, the lack of. (continued...)
Blair Destro April 19, 2012 at 07:38 PM
(continued...) We care about schools, we care about kids, we care about teachers, we care about our community.  We care enough to dig deeply, propose well informed, unanswered questions, forging on in the face of adversity, risk being ostracized...we have children in these schools too.  We are still working hard while many of you go about your daily lives, business as usual.  Complaining about crowding, portables and lunch lines amongst your friends, doesn't invoke change.  Being involved with your personal time creates change, debating productively, promotes change and voting promoted change. Looking forward to working with everyone together.
Blair Destro April 19, 2012 at 07:54 PM
Please attend the School Board Meeting tonight. This is your opportunity to begin working with the community. April 19, 2012 5:00 p.m. Study Session Board Room 7:00 p.m., Regular Board Meeting The Mercer Island School District Board of Directors meetings are held at the Mercer Island School District Central Office located at 4160 86th Avenue SE, Mercer Island. The Board Room is located on the east side of the building on the lower level. Please park in the parking lot located between the Central Office and Mercer Island High School stadium for easy access. Link to future meetings: http://www.misd.k12.wa.us/board/agenda/
Trevor Hart April 20, 2012 at 02:44 PM
Marina, I'm sorry to say that you just don't get it!
Kendall Watson April 20, 2012 at 03:56 PM
Blair, It's important to note that these meetings were open to the public (in fact, many of them were publicized on our events calendar, right here on Patch!). The 21CFPC said they held 17 public meetings over the year that they met. I attended 4 or 5 of them, and wrote stories about two of them, plus extra tidbits I didn't have time to write up as a story I put up on Mercer Island Patch's Facebook page. Here's an example of a story where a handful of residents warned the 21CFPC that their recommendations might not be well received by a majority of the public (most of the public who spoke at that meeting — over a dozen — praised their work and raised little or no objection): http://mercerisland.patch.com/articles/school-building-panel-gauges-public-support-for-bond-options
Deborah Ehlers April 20, 2012 at 05:22 PM
I fail to understand why we need so many new schools. Why not just one?
Blair Destro April 20, 2012 at 05:48 PM
One is sufficient it just leaves the rest of the island with the old which they don't want. One more school would alleviate the crowding, provide a new school where the growth is happening, keep our schools small, avoid the construction mess and re-shuffle. The shuffle that may have to happen to the students during this process. It has been an option previously discounted and barely discussed since the group decided it wasn't worth exploring. It would also elevate property value on the north-end of the island and create a community school where it's needed. M&O is feasible they just refused to allow it as an option in the previous package. It was too upsetting to many and the City Council refused to work together protecting open space. I encourage you to attend the Board Meetings even if you don't agree. It's important to pay attention from the beginning so that the community isn't stuck asking questions after it has all been discussed. There were very few Yes people at the Board Meeting last evening, surprisingly none when the architects presented, a very important time to inform yourselves. If this Bond had passed you had better bet the No camp would have been there to learn about the next steps and making themselves a part of it. I suggest the same for the others.
Michael Finn April 20, 2012 at 07:39 PM
What part about an overwhelming turnout and rejection of the proposed bond don't you get!!! Move on. The voters overwhelmingly believe there are other proposals to solve over crowding, a lot faster and for a lot less money than $200 Million Dollars. Our schools are not decrepit. Once over crowding is relieved they will function well for many years. The last bond isn't even paid off yet. Let's have some fiscal responsibility here. Don't you dare come back with the same proposal in different wrapping. Michael J Finn
Robert T. Brown April 20, 2012 at 11:30 PM
It appears that the MISD only researched extra M&O costs for 4-1-1, not 3-1-1. The reality is, Plano stated he would "definitely consider" adding an associate principal should the population exceed 700 students at one school, so for three larger schools, this is an additional $300K. At the School Board meeting last night, during the more than 30 minutes of public input, CMIPS co-chair Carrie George said that their committee would "disband" after a few weeks. However, this is not true. On their Public Disclosure Commission registration sheet, they were listed as a "continuing" committee, not "single-year". The board appeared to give off the tone that it was the city's fault for not considering selling any land (for a possible fourth school). Additionally, many on the board wanted to find out WHY the bond was rejected, although it seems very clear that all these reasons are well known. As Director Myerson put it, we don't need "pollsters" to move forward. Also, the one of the Directors said that there would be neighborhood push back from any location for a 4th school, even though she said that she enjoyed being near an elementary school. With this in mind, Kris Kelsay wrote on her blog that "If the board decides to go that route, I will be leading a very aggressive campaign against the next bond. Maybe I can buy your “Not this bond” signs for cheap?" It seems like we shouldn't have a facilitator that has such strong opinions on the alternate facilities plans.
Robert T. Brown April 20, 2012 at 11:34 PM
The MISD is now conducting "listening" sessions with the community. Tuesday, May 22 9:30 a.m. at PEAK (MI Boys and Girls Club on 86th Ave. SE) Thursday, May 24 7:00 p.m. in the Multipurpose Room (commons) at Islander Middle School http://www.misd.k12.wa.us/news/frontpage/BondCommunityListeningSessions.html Also, they accept email comments, although all emails sent to more than two board members become subject to public records.
George Stanton April 21, 2012 at 02:48 AM
Because we have overcrowding issues in the elementary and middle schools. If just one new school were to be constructed it would have to be a K-8. Also there is no suitable site for an extra school at this time. Also in 12 years the 3 elementary schools will reach end of life at which point they will need to be replaced. The plan that was rejected gave the best value at the lowest cost to the taxpayers. Any other plan will be far more expensive in the long-run. It's disappointing that we have to settle for a lesser plan at this point.
George Stanton April 21, 2012 at 02:52 AM
We absolutely NEED pollsters. We want to make sure everyone's voice and opinion is heard don't we? We need to know why this bond failed and what sort of plan will pass next time. Don't assume that because this bond got voted down that it's because they all agree with you.


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