I am voting for both the operating levy and the capital bond.
I am voting for the operating levy because passage of the levy is crucial to the operation of all schools. The state should be funding education differently, but until that change happens, a vote against the operating levy would be a vote to cut 1/4 of the operating budget and destroy Seattle Public Schools.
I am voting for the capital bond because the buildings in Seattle are in such poor shape that any improvements are worthwhile.
I am voting for the capital bond despite my frustration with the list of projects slated for the Capital Bond and the lack of openness and responsiveness of Mark Green and others in providing information and engaging the community in conversation. I am voting for the capital bond despite the fact that Pathfinder K-8 has had the entire middle school in portables on the other side of the parking lot from the K-5 building since it became a K-8 in the fall of 2000, has a building that is is truly horrible condition (only a tenth of a point better than the South Shore building according to the district's own assessment) and it will be another seven years before Pathfinder even gets the chance to be on the next capital bond.
I listened to Mel Westbrook (contributor on this blog) and Peter Maier (Schools First) discuss this issue on KUOW's Weekday this morning. I was impressed by the research Mel had done and how clearly she presented her argument. I respect and appreciate her work. But, I think opposing the bond would send the wrong message.
The problems that Mel has identified with the capital bond do point out the need to keep arguing with the district about which projects are actually built, but don't, in my opinion, merit voting against the bond. Voting against the bond sends a message to the community and potential superintendent candidates that we don't support our schools. That is not a message I want to communicate.
Voting against the bond also sends a message to the school district that we are angry and don't like the list of projects, but I think we can communicate that message in other ways. I know Mel is confident that the list of projects could be "fixed" and voted on again in six months. I, personally, don't want the district to spend the extra time and money necessary to hold another election. I don't want parents and community volunteers to be asked to give lots of time and money again. And, most importantly, I don't believe that if opponents of the capital bond are successful in convincing the public to vote against the bond now that 1) consensus could easily and quickly be reached on how to create a new, better list of projects; and 2) that public opinion could be turned back around quickly to then vote for bond they recently opposed.
If you want to learn more, below are some resources to check out:
- Listen to the audio of KUOW Weekday with Melissa Westbrook, Peter Maier & Mark Green.
- Read the information on the Schools First site.
- Read Bumpy path for school levy vote in the Seattle PI today.
- Read Seattle Schools: Emphatic yes in the Seattle PI a few days ago.
- Read Seattle School Levy/Bond Measure, Support for BEX III and other posts on this blog by searching for "BEX" or "Bond" in the search field in the upper left corner of the blog.
- The KUOW Weekday page today also has a long list of related links you can explore.