Letters to the Editor

Letter | Realtors® urge 'yes' vote on MISD bond measure

Seattle KingCounty Realtors® (SKCR) have endorsed a bond proposition to modernize and expand facilities in the Mercer Island School District. The measure seeks $196 million to fund several rebuilding and renovation projects over the next five to eight years.

The funding request will appear on a vote-by-mail ballot for the April 17 special election. It requires a supermajority (60 percent plus 1) to pass. Realtor Wolf Puls, president of the Seattle KingCounty Realtors, said there was very strong support among the association’s members.

“Good schools are the first thing homebuyers ask us about," noted Puls, who has worked in the profession since 1984. “We are very proud to be associated with real estate industry leaders who stand firmly committed to a healthy community and to the success of the children whose families our REALTORS® serve,” he remarked.

Puls, whose wife is a teacher, also spoke of his personal support: “Being married to a public school educator, I am keenly aware of the need to adequately fund our schools to prepare the best future members of our communities,” he remarked. Members of SKCR’s Governmental & Public Affairs committee considered several factors before recommending endorsement, according to Puls.

The proposition also drew strong backing from Linus Toy, managing broker at Windermere’s Mercer Island office.

“We’re asking our schools to prepare our children for the 21st century. It is really unfair to saddle them with 20th century facilities,” he remarked.

Toy, a parent of two children at Islander Middle School, spoke of his own experiences while volunteering with the schools. “As a parent helping out in the classroom while they were at Island Park Elementary School, I saw the limits the building imposed on the education process — para-professional staff or parents working with students in hallways (with associated distractions), limited classroom spaces needing constant re-arranging to meet different situations, and storage closets/lockers turned into offices or teaching spaces, to name just a few examples.”

Along with the need to ease overcrowding and update obsolete facilities, the Realtors cited other reasons for supporting the bond proposition. They included the district’s financial rating, its recognition on various “best schools” lists, and numerous achievements by teachers and students.

In mid-December, Moody’s Investors Service announced the district maintained its AAA rating, one of only five districts in the state to earn the highest rating outlook. Puls said Realtors were also impressed by the district’s high rankings among America’s 25 best school districts for the housing dollar, and on Forbes magazine’s list of “Best Schools for Your Real Estate Buck.” He also commended the district for its national recognition for excellence in math and science education, and for its track record of success on proficiency exams.

David Crowell, SKCR’s director of governmental and public affairs, also emphasized the importance of good schools. In a letter to Superintendent Plano announcing the Realtor support, Crowell stated, “Good schools are essential for preserving the value of family homes. They are critical for economic vitality and job creation. Schools unify and define communities. But, most important, quality schools are crucial to the futures of the students in the Mercer Island School District.”

Crowell said Realtors in the district will be urged to support the measure, not only with their own “yes” vote, but also by encouraging other Mercer Island voters to cast a vote of approval.

The bond proposition package includes provisions for rebuilding Islander Middle School, replacing three elementary schools with new facilities, adding labs and classrooms at Mercer Island High school, making repairs and renovation to the Mary Wayte Pool and high school stadium, purchasing property for future growth, and funding development of a 50-year master plan.

Proponents of the measure, organized as Mercer Island Schools Bond "Yes — Keep Mercer Island Schools Rock Solid," said the district’s financial analysts estimate the owner of a home with an assessed value of $750,000 would pay about $525 per year in additional property taxes if the measure passes.

The Seattle KingCounty Realtors®, with more than 5,000 members, is a local board of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). Its members adhere to a strict code of ethics and participate in matters at all levels of government that affect private property rights, housing supplies, affordability and homeownership opportunities. Membership is voluntary, and only members may use the term REALTOR®, which is a licensed collective trademark.

Seattle KingCounty Realtors®

 

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