South Kitsap School District 402 Proposition 2, as all know by now, has failed. This is the third such failure over the last 12 months and notable in that the margin of failure is markedly higher than during the two previous attempts in 2016.
Voters in nearby districts have recently approved similar school-construction measures, but such success eludes South Kitsap. Rather than repeatedly put forward the same old plan to meet the same old rejection, clearly a different approach is needed. We need to start asking ourselves “Why has this happened … and what can be done about it?”
In a review of precinct-by-precinct results, a pronounced geographic disparity quickly emerges. Port Orchard and nearby precincts seem quite supportive of a new high school, whereas outlying precincts are substantially less so.
My impression is that the message of the pro high school camp is reaching and resonating with voters in the city and immediate environs, but is either not reaching those farther out in the county, or is not convincing many if it does.
I note that some of the least-supportive precincts happen to lie along or near the South Kitsap School District boundary (and for long stretches coincides with the Kitsap County line). I sincerely wonder if a significant portion of high-school-age students in these areas has chosen to attend high schools in other districts. If so, their parents’ reluctance to pay higher property taxes to construct schools their children won’t attend is understandable.
In order to help move forward on this long-contentious issue, perhaps a productive contribution might be a good-faith review of school district lines and populations. If necessary, maybe some district lines ought to be redrawn according to where the kids actually go to school rather than where they are “supposed” to go to school.
Another possibility is to review the proposed site for the new high school. The current site would result in a school district with both high schools located well within its northern half. A second high school site farther south might make a construction bond significantly more attractive to voters in currently non-supportive precincts.
I don’t know if either of these proposals is the answer. But I do know that our community needs another high school alongside major improvements to existing schools. I also know that a substantially different approach is required to realize that goal.
It’s time to ask “What exactly is the problem with this plan that the voters are rejecting?” and then craft a new proposal that addresses such concerns.