Letter | Support for schools critical for home values here
March 29, 2012 · 12:38 PM
For Our Schools and For Our Home Values -- Vote YES on School Bond
We are active Realtors, who represent 3 different major Real Estate Offices on Mercer Island. We believe that it is very important to pass this school bond for our schools, our community and our home values.
Every day, we work with home buyers on Mercer Island as they evaluate their home-search priorities and the budget they have to spend on a home. We work with buyers who come from the Seattle area, other parts of the U.S. and even other countries throughout the world. The #1 draw to Mercer Island? As we all know – our schools. We have enjoyed a national reputation for offering great schools and education for years. That has been fabulous for our kids and also fabulous for our home values.
Here’s our fear: The “edge” that Mercer Island has had for its great schools is slipping. Buyers moving across the bridge from Seattle stop first at Mercer Island because they know we have great schools. But it is not uncommon for buyers to move beyond Mercer Island and head further east along I-90 to homes in Bellevue, Kirkland, Issaquah and Sammamish. We are now very used to hearing buyers tell us that they might like a listing we have on the market, but “there’s a house in Issaquah (or Bellevue, Kirkland etc.) they like more that is newer or bigger, less expensive….and the schools there are good too.” This trend is very real. We have had to work harder to “sell” Mercer Island as the school districts to the east of us have grown up, developed and invested in their infrastructure.
We all know that good education comes from having strong teachers, involved parents, and a community that supports its schools. All of this we have in spades. But we can’t neglect our infrastructure and expect everything to remain the same. The over-crowding problems in our schools are very real, and are going to get worse as our enrollment increases. Our teachers and administrators are spending more of their time dealing with space issues and that impacts time they could be putting into programming and learning. We aren’t able to provide as many opportunities for the arts, sciences, and personalized learning. Why would we allow these compromises in our schools?
When prospective buyers really dig in and start to look at our schools on Mercer Island, they are surprised and disappointed to learn about our overcrowding issues and the lack of facilities we have compared to neighboring districts, who have been re-building their schools and providing top-notch facilities.
We need to re-invest in our schools and make sure our facilities match up to our national reputation so we can keep that top spot. Since 1990, Bellevue has invested almost $50,000/student in capital expenditures. In that same time-frame on Mercer Island, we have invested a little over $10,000/student in capital expenditures. We pay one of the lowest percentages in tax rates toward our schools in the entire area. We simply aren’t currently funding what is needed for our schools.
For people who are concerned about the increase in taxes (of about $700/year for a home assessed at $1 Million), please realize that if we don’t invest in our schools, we will all lose a lot more than that in home values down the road.
Please protect our schools, our community and our home values. Vote YES on this school bond.
Sarah Ford, Coldwell Banker Bain
Linus Toy, Windermere
Mark Eskridge, John L Scott