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Tuesday, December 10, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Opinion >  Editorial

Editorial: Support for schools assures better communities

Support your schools.

Education today demands the best facilities and teachers if our children are going to thrive in the 21st century. Unfortunately, Washington state does not adequately finance education, so local voters have to step up. Time and again they have done so, and it is time to do so again.

Voters in 13 Spokane County school districts have received, or will shortly receive, ballots due by midnight Feb. 10. Every district wants to roll over its existing levy for another two or three years. Two districts – Liberty and West Valley – have proposed renewal of a second levy for ongoing upgrades of their information technology capabilities.

All levies require a simple majority to pass.

Proposed bond issues must clear two higher hurdles: At least 40 percent of the voters in the last general election must cast a ballot, and 60 percent of those must approve.

Breaking down each of the six bond issues and what they would build, expand or remodel would take more space than we have here. One common element is better security measures, such as single entrances, that were a high priority among parents.

Central Valley, which has not passed a bond issue since 1998 despite the addition of 1,700 students, has the most urgent problems, with parents shuttling and shuffling students between buildings because the school closest is over capacity.

The board of directors and administration made impressive efforts to sound out constituents, and came back with a $121.9 million plan that will build one new elementary school, remodel five, as well as one junior high, and take other steps to ease the pressure on bursting facilities.

The Mead and Cheney districts also have capacity problems, and are seeking $69.5 million and $44.9 million, respectively, to solve them.

The Spokane School District will be instituting the third phase of a 25-year plan that is methodically upgrading or replacing every school. Because of an over-generous allowance for inflation in the second phase, the district is carrying over $34 million, and will qualify for another $25 million in state money if this issue passes. Result: no increase in the property tax rate.

Nine Mile Falls and Orchard Prairie have smaller but no less significant bond proposals.

This election will test whether voters are ready to do those things necessary to realize the goals set by Initiative 1351. Remember?

I-1351 requires smaller class sizes from K-12. That means more classrooms and more teachers; neither free. Spokane County voters, like those across Washington, approved the measure despite warnings from legislators and newspapers that they were setting themselves up for higher taxes.

However the Legislature responds, the bonds and levies on the Feb. 10 ballot are necessary measures based on current needs alone.

Businesses cannot grow if well-educated workers are not available. And owners outside the area won’t relocate or expand where they don’t find good schools.

Support your children, and assure the future of your communities.

Wordcount: 490

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