As fellow Island seniors, we’re writing to ask for your support of the Mercer Island Schools’ bond and levy renewal ballot measures. In 2012, more than 70 percent of Island seniors, including many of us who have signed this letter, voted against the $200 million school bond. While seniors have a long and proud tradition of supporting our schools, that bond proposal was too large and didn’t reflect our priorities.
Our votes were not a rejection of our schools or of the many great people who work tirelessly to educate Islander kids. We knew that our schools were overcrowded and that teaching more than 700 students in 34 portables is not sustainable, especially given the projected enrollment growth. Instead, we wanted our educators to step back and develop a more fiscally prudent plan. That is exactly what they did.
The new school bond issue is a common sense proposal that makes targeted and critical improvements to our schools:
• Cost reduced in half to less than $100 million
• No schools are being torn down.
• A new elementary school is being built on property the district already owns.
• Islander Middle School will be expanded and will include 14 new classrooms, lab spaces, music rooms and a new cafeteria and gym.
• Six classrooms and four science labs are being added to the high school.
• Specific plans have already been created for both the new school and these additions.
• No non-academic projects are included in this bond.
The ballot you received also includes the usual M&O Levy renewal that we are asked to vote on every four years. As it has in the past, this levy pays over 25 percent of the district’s operating costs including the salaries for more than 100 teachers and staff members.
Many of us raised families on Mercer Island because of the quality of our schools; they define our community. Like generations before us, we recognize that quality education is essential for our society. We also know that kids are impacted by substandard facilities. The children on this Island deserve better. Let’s also be honest with ourselves: ensuring that young families continue to move here is essential to maintaining our property values and producing the tax revenue we need to keep city public safety, roads and other services at the levels we now enjoy.
The school district did it right this time and, as a result, we all stand to benefit. Please join us in voting “Yes” for this fiscally prudent Proposition #1 school bond measure and also “Yes” for the Prop #2 four-year levy renewal.
Alanna Burdell Fran Call
Frank Ceteznik Lowell Ericsson
Einer Handeland Jake Jacobson