As a retired school architect and planner I strongly support comfortable and up-to-date educational facilities. I oppose Proposition 1 because it leaves thousands of kids and their teachers in overcrowded schools and substandard buildings for years more than needed and would spend over $235M of the $398M to needlessly tear down and replace more buildings instead of providing for growth.
These bonds provide virtually no money to enlarge our many overcrowded schools. None to modernize our many substandard buildings. More money would be spent to replace Juanita HS and 2 Elementary Schools than for new buildings to absorb growth. Tens of millions more than enough to build twice as many new elementary and middle schools for growth and enlarge those 3 buildings instead of replacing them.
Our buildings are structurally sound and relatively new with scores of useful years remaining. The district’s estimates showed that the cost of major renovation would have been a fraction of the cost of replacement, yet almost $600M in bonds we approved for modernization was spent to replace them instead. The district kept replacing them years after projecting growth instead of providing new schools and enlarging others to handle incoming students.
Overcrowded schools and thousands left in deteriorating substandard buildings was predictable. We would have been well served if the School Board had assembled an unbiased team of independent experts in school design and planning to analyze district facilities management and recommend reasonable ways to repair its damage. Instead they hired experts in PR to aid a district led Public Opinion Task Force for advice.
Space and means has been found to house new students in spite of our rejection of previous proposals to rebuild more schools. There's more underutilized space and options to house even more. There’s plenty of time for the board to reconsider its wasteful agenda of replacing buildings in lieu of modernization.
These hundreds of millions won’t improve overcrowding and poor housing conditions for up to 5 years. Our kids and teachers deserve relief much sooner. In their best interests we need to reject Proposition 1 and urge the board to quickly develop a more effective plan for handling growth and better stewardship of our valuable assets.
Paul Hall, AIA, Emeritus