With just hours to go before the April 17 school bond election ballots must be postmarked and mailed to King County Elections, "Yes" campaign volunteers Bill Hochberg and Aleta Finnila were encouraging passers-by to honk their horns in support of the $196 million school bond measure.
"We have a substantial capacity problem that needs to be solved," said Hochberg, who also volunteered for the school district's facilities committee, 21CFPC, that recommended the school bond to rebuild all of the MISD's K-8 schools.
"It's only going to heighten the existing crisis if these bonds don't pass, and will reduce our options for better solutions in the future."
"Quite simply," Finnila said, "I think it's better if it passes than if it doesn't pass."
The school bond measure has also been billed by supporters as a badly-needed modernization measure for the Mercer Island School District's outdated K-8 schools, which were mostly built in the 1950s and renovated in the 1990s. The bond would pay for rebuilding all four K-8 schools using higher building standards, add a science wing to Mercer Island High School, provide for significant repairs to extend the life of Mary Wayte Pool, renovate Islander Stadium, buying more land for future MISD use and a master plan for the so-called Mega-Block campus.
Critics contend that the bond, which will cost the average homeowner (owning a property valued at $1 million) somewhere around $1,300 per year and rise as homes appreciate, is too expensive and that land for a fourth elementary school should be purchased and a school built there to solve the overcrowding problem (despite the to find a suitable site for such a project).
Finilla, a for the Mercer Island School Board, said she had wrestled with how to vote for some time until finally deciding to stand up and endorse the school bond measure.
"We're here for our kids, the community, and our community's future," Hochberg added.