Be Informed and Help Support Our Local Schools
The Peninsula School District Bond, which passed in 2003, is set to expire next year, and you will have the opportunity to vote on a new Capital Facilities bond on April 24. The Peninsula School District is proposing a $220 million 20-year bond at a stable tax rate of $45 per $100,000 of assessed property value. The numbers and goals were reached after a community-lead nine-month planning process which found four key areas the committee felt were in need of serious attention for the district:
• Updating safety and security
• Replacing outdated infrastructure
• Addressing overcrowded classrooms
• Updating and enhancing learning environments
If passed, 100 percent of the proceeds will go into capital improvement projects, which are overseen by a community-lead audit committee that tracks the finances.
Deborah Krishnadasan and Jennifer Butler are co-chairs of Stand Up for Peninsula Schools (SUP), a community organization in favor of passing the bond. “PSD schools are outdated, have unsafe conditions, are chronically overcrowded and the infrastructure of the buildings is failing,” said Krishnadasan.
SUP points to the fact that the district has seen tremendous growth over the last 20 years, but there hasn’t been major capital funding in 15 years—the last new elementary school was built 25 years ago!
“Our schools need major upgrades and replacement of systems such as heating, ventilation and air conditioning [HVAC], and roofs to keep our kids warm and dry. Ten of our 15 schools have HVAC systems past their serviceable life and are starting to fail, causing student evacuations and lack of water for drinking and flushing toilets,” said Butler.
Another concern found by the committee was student safety and security. During the first three months of 2018, the nation is averaging a school shooting nearly once a week. While staff is being trained for these potential catastrophic events, building security in most PSD schools was designed decades ago.
“All but two of our schools were built before the Columbine High School tragedy and lack the security features we now expect of our schools,” said Butler. “Our high schools have dozens of unsecured points of entry, and 25 percent of our elementary students learn in isolated, less-secure portables.”
The bond would also address outdated sprinkler and fire-alarm systems. “Currently, 11 of 15 schools have fire alarms, sprinklers and/or on-site water levels for first responders that do not meet current code. Artondale and PHS have no sprinklers in many areas, including gyms and other common spaces where a large amount of kids gather,” explained Butler.
As more children enter the school system, especially at the elementary level, teachers are experiencing larger class sizes, and many classrooms have been taken out of the main school buildings and into on-site portable classrooms. Growth projections show the need for 22 additional elementary classrooms by 2020. The state has also recently set a mandate on classroom size, and some state funding would be cut if the district is unable to meet those requirements.
Passage of the Capital Facilities Bond would create a new elementary school to alleviate some of the overcrowding while also updating and improving current schools by bringing them up to meet all current codes and standards.
The final main focus of the bond is to bring classrooms into modern times with updated technology and learning tools. This includes a focus on creating specific classrooms for STEM programs and other technology-based learning environments.
The previous bond, passed 15 years ago, was at a property tax rate of $48 per $100,000 of assessed property value while the 2018 bond, which takes effect in 2019, is a rate of $45 per $100,000—meaning property taxes will be lower in 2019 even if the bond is passed.
As with any vote, it is important to be well informed before casting your ballot. All projects in regard to the Capital Facilities Bond are available on the district’s website and are clearly laid out in several formats. You can find this information at PSD401.net/bond. If you have additional questions, the district is continuing to hold live Q&A sessions on its Facebook page every Monday at 5pm leading up to April 24. You can also visit StandUp4Schools.org for additional information.
In order to pass, the Capital Facilities Bond requires 60-percent voter approval. Organizations like Stand Up for Peninsula Schools are encouraging the community for a “yes” vote and believe this bond is a benefit to all in the community.
“While there are additional needs in our district, the 2018 April bond will address the most critical safety and security needs at all schools,” said Krishnadasan.
“This bond is a win for everyone,” said Butler. “The 2018 April bond replaces the 2003 bond expiring next year, and even with the approval of the replacement bond, local school taxes will decrease in 2019. Supporting the bond is the best way to create safer and more secure schools while being fiscally responsible to our tax payers.”