Letter | Support the bond
February 8, 2012 · 2:21 PM
As a member of the 21st Century Facilities Committee, I learned how desperately overcrowded our elementary and middle schools are. The K-8 schools are 34 percent over capacity today, and will be 41 percent over capacity by 2015. The elementary schools were designed and built for 450 students. Today they house over 600, and projections show we can expect even higher enrollment. Portables supply classroom space, but portables don’t provide the necessary common spaces: lunchrooms, gyms, assembly rooms. At West Mercer, for example, there are three lunch periods of 20 minutes each. Students don’t have time to eat lunch, and many just throw their lunches away. Students line up and wait for PE until the lunchroom is cleared. Believe it or not, closets and storage spaces have been converted into instructional spaces, and hallways are used for everything from tutoring to music rehearsals.
These schools were built in the 1950s for 1950s teaching styles. Even with the remodels in the 1990s, they don’t accommodate the more varied needs of the 21st century, or state-mandated requirements for specialized learning, for example. It is simply not cost-effective to remodel these schools once again: we need two-story schools, which current construction doesn’t allow, and there is no available space to enlarge the footprint.
I am not a parent, but I am a proud Mercer Island citizen and homeowner who wants to see our schools and our community remain the best in the state. I support the 2012 bond 100 percent.