Editorial: The Times recommends to approve school levy and bond measures in Highline School District
Highline School District voters should approve both the bond and levy measures on the Feb. 10 ballot.
Seattle Times Editorial
HIGHLINE Public Schools is a district bursting at the seams. District voters should not miss a second chance to replace aging schools and prepare for a stream of new students expected to swell the district’s rolls over the next decade.
In November, a bond measure to replace and renovate aging schools and make improvements throughout the district fell just short of the 60 percent voter approval required on bond issues.
Meantime, those schools are aging, and another 2,000 students are expected to join the district, bringing the total to about 21,000. Also, legislative plans to require smaller classes in kindergarten through third grade — when research proves students benefit academically — could overwhelm already crowded elementary schools.
So, after the narrow defeat, the School Board listened to public concerns and rejiggered its plans, trimming about $9 million from the proposal. On the Feb. 10 ballot, voters will consider a $376 million bond issue — along with a renewal of the district’s educational-programs-and-operations levy, which pays for such things as bus transportation, sports, supplies and personnel that the state does not fully fund.
Besides rebuilding the Highline High School, the bond issue would build an elementary school and two middle schools on district-owned property, and would make renovations at Tyee and Evergreen campuses. Throughout the district, technology improvements as well as capital improvements to support arts education are planned.
The owner of an average Highline home, valued at $201,900, would pay an additional $220 per year. The levy measure, which would replace the current levy, has a slight increase and would add about $24 a year to that same homeowner’s tax bill.
Both are worthy proposals that deserve support from voters in a district that is aggressively making changes to better serve its students.
Among them was the move to all-day kindergarten — that is a goal of the Legislature, but it awaits funding. Many school districts are waiting, but Highline provided this for all students by finding the money in its budget.
Elementary teachers already are seeing a difference in those early all-day kindergarten graduates, Superintendent Susan Enfield said this week.
That is what schools should be about — making a difference. Highline Public Schools has a smart plan embedded in both of these ballot measures.
Voters should join them in the effort.
Editorial board members are editorial page editor Kate Riley, Frank A. Blethen, Ryan Blethen, Mark Higgins, Jonathan Martin, Thanh Tan, Blanca Torres, William K. Blethen (emeritus) and Robert C. Blethen (emeritus).