LETTER: LWSD Board Regarding Bond

The following letter was sent to the Lake Washington School Board.

Dear Board Members,

I’m disappointed that you inflated this growth bond issue to enable rebuilding of Juanita HS.  This relatively new building was built for permanence and ease of modernizing.  I understand that there is powerful political pressure to rebuild it instead.  Not  because of need, but to have a new high school like the other two.  Twice the voters have wisely rejected attempts to raise money for this.  But still you packaged Juanita replacement with this "growth" bond issue in another determined attempt to push it thru. 

In this hastily contrived redo of the rejected bond issue, you quickly cut two schools which would have added space for 640 students. Five out of six replacement schools were also cut with a promise that before asking for any  more money for replacement schools, a modernization study would be done. Replacement of Juanita was left in and will obviously escape this scrutiny if the bond issue passes.

There is no pressing need for more space at Juanita.  It isn't even scheduled for completion until 2019. Replacement will only add 110 students to its total capacity.  It's $135M cost consumes almost 40% of this "growth" bond issue.  That's as much as the proposed 3 new elementary schools and most of the new middle school together adding space for 2550 students.  

Many of our schools have waited years for modernization.  Spending all that money to replace Juanita will make them wait years longer. The district Capital Facilities Plan leaves thousands of students still housed in portables districtwide for years.  Replacement of Juanita will remove its portables.

You’ve known of the growth problem for years.  Yet you’ve used our money to replace existing schools instead of building new buildings to handle it.  You’ve allowed the problem to become serious but not yet a crisis.  Even if this bond issue fails, there still shouldn't be any serious delay in construction to correct your mistake.

The district has several millions left over from earlier bond issues.  You should already be using part of that money to fast-track design and otherwise get buildings "shovel ready" for construction when money is available.  Juanita replacement is extravagant and inequitable.  It should be REJECTED again. The voters should have no fear of dire housing consequences by doing so.  In any event, I hope we can expect better stewardship of our valuable buildings and limited financial resources in the future.

Respectfully,

Paul Hall, Architect, AIA, Emeritus