Time to invest again in schools

How can it be? Measured in capital dollars invested per student, the Mercer Island community has invested substantially less in its school facilities than districts both large, such as Bellevue, or even very small like the 1,500 student Vashon Island School District.

Figures in our story today about the amount of money approved by Bellevue voters to remodel and expand, and yes — even build entire new schools, is instructive. Beyond a roof or a playfield, new boilers and energy upgrades,  computers and security systems, not much has been done with Island schools to keep them up to par.

All that has been done to accommodate growing enrollment is to add more portables. The district has spend a whopping $1 million in portable structures for Island students. Is this how one of the top school districts in the state remains an example of excellence? Really?

With dedicated teachers, a state of the art curriculum, innovative administrators, the support of parents and the Mercer Island Schools Foundation, the school district is still regarded as a model for others. Yet, with an eye on the ever-evolving nature of education, school leaders have been carefully preparing for what is needed next for years.  And what we need now are more classrooms.

We Islanders have been resting our laurels since the high school was redone in 1998. But more students are coming — more than 400 came in the last few years — another 400 are coming soon. Given the lead times for design and construction, we can’t wait any longer.

Education is not what it used to be — and is not what it is going to be in the coming decades. We need to get ready for what is ahead. This is our duty.

For more than you ever want to know, go to www.mercerislandschools.org, and click on the  bright green box in the center of the page for more information.

Vote YES for both measures. Vote YES for our schools.


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