Opinion

Why I’m voting for the school bond

I have lived in Sequim since 1991 and I’m voting YES on the bond!

Our schools aren’t just institutions of learning; they reflect our civic pride.

Look around folks. Are you proud of what you see? Are you proud that Helen Haller portables intended to be a three- to five-year temporary solution to overcrowded classrooms have been in place for more than 20 years? Are you proud that we as a community have not invested in our school facilities since the last bond passed in 1996? We can do better.

This bond gives us the opportunity to address multiple facilities issues in a comprehensive, strategic and fiscally sound way. I’ll focus on three issues of particular concern to me:

Safety and security

The California open-campus architecture of the 1970s makes no sense in Washington in 2014. Currently, anyone at any time can freely wander anywhere they choose on our school grounds. Safety is all about minimizing risk. There are more than 50 doors on the high school that open to the outside and more than 30 doors on Helen Haller, making it virtually impossible to keep intruders out.

The one-roof design concept proposed for all the district school buildings will result in a single point of entry and exit monitored by staff and security cameras. Fail safe? No. But it’s a dramatic improvement over what we have now. And the one-roof design will certainly deter those who would do harm to our kids.

Inefficiencies

Sequim High School and Helen Haller buildings are 12-30 years past their 30-year lifespan (the Washington state standard at the time of construction) and they’ve exceeded their useful lives. Worn out buildings are incredibly inefficient to heat — a condition exacerbated by the multiple doors to the outside that are open 10 minutes each hour as students move to their next class.

The district also is heating portables with limited wall and roof insulation and single pane windows. So, we’re literally throwing money out the window (and doors). Let’s do the right thing and construct new, energy-efficient buildings designed for 21st century learning; buildings with a 50-year lifespan (the state standard).

Athletic facilities

Our high school athletic facilities aren’t just for athletes; the track, gym, tennis courts and various playfields are used almost daily as part of the PE curriculum. These facilities also are available to the public, when not in use by the school. However, part of the track is closed and unusable.

The gym was built in 1954 and the original floor, which was constructed directly on concrete, has no cushion; it’s now warped and results in many injuries annually. The tennis courts have major cracks. The baseball and softball fields are mud pits.

The stadium field is unlevel, full of holes, and a maintenance nightmare. Athletic directors in the Olympic League have determined the Sequim stadium field is the worst in the league, and post-season games cannot be played in Sequim because of the unsafe playing surface. Thus, our local athletes, families, and fans waste fuel traveling to other communities and spend their food dollars elsewhere.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to have that economic boost here? Three percent of the total bond will go toward new athletic facilities: track, turf field, and stadium; gym; baseball and softball fields; and tennis courts. Wouldn’t we rather go to a home sporting event and be proud of our town and its facilities rather than embarrassed?

Let’s support our students. Let’s renovate and build facilities where they can excel. Let’s transform our town into a place we can be proud of.

Please invest in our future by voting YES on the

Sequim school bond!

 

Mike McAleer is a Sequim resident.

 

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