We have recommended passage of bond measures in the past to build a much-needed second high school in the South Kitsap School District. Our support remains strong this election cycle as the school district once again is asking voters to construct a new comprehensive facility on district-owned property at Old Clifton Road.
The reasons for voters to approve the $184 million Proposition 1 bond measure, as with similar requests in past years, are compelling. South Kitsap High School is worn out, overcrowded and in need of technology and safety improvements. Anticipated growth in the district will squeeze it even more. Much of that growth will also impact elementary and middle schools, which are in similar straits as is the high school in accommodating its current student numbers.
A patchwork of sorts has been cobbled together to alleviate some of the deficits that exist at district facilities. Proposition 2 is a $21 million capital projects levy that will fund a long list of renovation work and compliance requirements in the schools, provide technology catchup funds, as well as money for safety and security work, primarily to secure entrances at the district’s middle schools. We also strongly support this measure.
If the reasons to create a better learning environment for our district’s students aren’t convincing — and they should be — the economics behind the measures is a no-brainer. That’s because time continues to be an enemy. A booming regional economy has boosted costs of construction to double-digit increases over just a few years. Like a nagging toothache, ignoring the need to take action won’t solve the problem. It only guarantees the pain will continue and the damage will magnify.
The taxing formula for property owners makes it a tolerable commitment. With the McCleary decision capping the education programs levy at $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value, the rates resulting from approval of the two measures won’t increase tax levels beyond what was assessed in 2017.
This is an opportunity for the South Kitsap community to reverse a trend of neglect and avoidance. By ignoring the fiduciary responsibility of our community to properly fund the operation and upkeep of its school system, we’re not only cheating our future generations from a full, competitive educational experience, but we’re handing them this intolerable burden to solve in future years.
It’s a selfish dereliction of civic duty that needs to come to an end this election cycle.