Saturday, January 18, 2014

Lake Washington School District Levy and Bond vote – OPINION PIECE

I have posted four detailed blog entries regarding the upcoming LWSD Levy and Bond issues for vote on February 11th, 2014.  They can be found here.

This chart gives just a few examples of how poorly the district has managed and planned for student capacity and growth over the last few years.  8 Elementary schools are “Over permanent capacity” and all but one school (Mann Elementary) has portables to house over-population of students.

Phase 1 of the modernization program that began in 1998 and lists completion in 2006 replaced or rebuilt Audubon, Franklin, Juanita, Lakeview, Mann, Rose Hill, Thoreau and Twain Elementary schools; Kirkland and Redmond Junior High Schools (now middle schools); and Redmond High School.

Phase 2 replaced or rebuilt Frost, Muir, Keller, Sandburg, Bell, and Rush Elementary schools; Rose Hill, Finn Hill and Northstar Middle School; and Lake Washington High School.

The current Bond and Levy issues affect the funding for what is called Phase 3 which includes building three new elementary schools, one new middle school, one new STEM school and an “International” school.  There are also many overlapping projects proposed that involve schools recently modernized or rebuilt by adding portables or additional structures to those buildings; namely, Lake Washington and Eastlake High Schools.

The bond will also replace 6 schools; Juanita High School, Kamiakin and Evergreen Middle schools and Kirk, Rockwell and Mead Elementary schools.

This is not the first time that projects have necessitated additional funding due to population issues in the District.  Redmond High School was originally built in 1964; demolished and rebuilt during the LWSD modernization process (Phase 2) in 2003.  An additional construction project was completed in 2012 and added 30,000 s.f. of space including an auxiliary gym addition, a classroom addition and two portable buildings.  Between that completion time of 2012 and today’s current date (January 2014) there have been an additional two portable classrooms added to the Redmond High School campus.  As mentioned here the 2003 construction cost was $50.5 million and the project in 2012 an additional $1.4 million.

Horace Mann Elementary (Phase 1) was destroyed and rebuilt with students attending classes in the new facilities Fall 2003.  It was built with no additional classrooms – in fact, two fewer classrooms than the original building accommodated.

Redmond Middle School – formerly Redmond Jr. High (Phase 1) presently has three portables on site after being demolished and rebuilt in 2002.

These are just three examples in my neighborhood alone of schools that have been rebuilt and are now over capacity within just 10 years of completion; yet the district states that their modernization program is to plan for 30 to 40 years per building usage.

Lake Washington High School was rebuilt under Phase 2; and students moved into the buildings in September 2011.  Under the proposed Bond funding, Lake Washington High School will be receiving an addition to the 2011 buildings.

For the purposes of planning, the District assumes that a new single-family home currently generates 0.3810 elementary students, 0.1170 middle school students, and 0.0950 senior high students, for a total of 0.593 school-age child per single family home.  New multi-family housing units currently generate an average of 0.0490 elementary student, 0.0140 middle school student, and 0.0160 senior high student for a total of 0.0790 school age child per multi-family home.

Granted, many residences in Redmond have no children; however the theory that there is, in total, less than 1 complete school-age child per single family home (average) in our district is absurd.  In our neighborhood of roughly 30 houses, I can round up at least 15 children that are school age; with another 10 or so children that are infant to four years old.  Many families have more than two children and there are a great number of families that share living spaces, which increases the number of school-age children in any given neighborhood or multi-family location.

It is beyond my comprehension that a district, so widely acknowledged as successful and competitive can have such poor planning, organizational and math skills that they find themselves constantly ‘begging’ for money from taxpayers in multiple attempts to make our children “future ready”.

I will not attempt to admit that I understand the budgeting and accounting processes of our district or many of the governmental agencies that fund our educational system.  I have not reviewed or scrutinized the general or other funds and accounts that the district maintains.  I am only offering an opinion on what seems to be an unending cycle of inattention to detail and lack of planning for the future.

And so, once again the district wants the taxpayer to foot the bill for yet more incompetence and lack of planning so they can construct more buildings that will be over capacity in less than one-third of their life cycle.  I wonder how the Lake Washington School District plans to educate the children of the 20,000 residents that will be moving into all the new construction projects showing up all over the city of Redmond; not to mention Kirkland and other cities in the district boundaries.

Vote NO on February 11th for the Levy and Bond issues.  Over-crowding of our schools is not the only problem to be addressed here.  Perhaps the District should take their own motto into consideration and make all of our school buildings “future ready”.


Ed Brown said...

Thank you, Paige! You have written the same thing I have been saying for years. If I was as bad at capacity planning as LWSD, I would be out of a job!

Paige Norman said...

Ed, thank you! It's shocking that we keep giving them money to throw down the drain!

~ Paige

waste said...

The best part is that they cannot afford to maintain the new buildings. A light switch that cost $5 and lasted 30 years now cost $50 and burns out in 2 years. The square footage and number if sites have increased while support staff has decreased. The amount of capitol project money spent due to the under funding of maintenance is a joke.