On April 22, voters who live in Sequim School District will be asked to make a decision that will shape the future of every resident of eastern Clallam County: Should Sequim Schools be authorized to issue bonds to rebuild or renovate nearly every school in the district?
Here’s what’s at stake:
Safety and security
Do students at one school deserve greater safety measures than students at another? Two district schools, Haller Elementary and Sequim High, were built using an open-air design.
Each is made up of a complex of buildings, with doors that open directly to the outside, not connected by interior hallways. This type of design makes securing schools from unwanted outside visitors very difficult. The bond proposal includes replacing Haller with a new school and renovating Sequim High.
Both buildings will have a “One Roof” design and a controlled, single point of entry. In the proposal, a single point of entry system also will be built at Greywolf Elementary to improve security.
Adequate classroom space
Haller Elementary, Greywolf Elementary and Sequim High School all lack adequate classroom space. All-day kindergarten, mandated by the state of Washington to start by 2018, will double the kindergarten population at both schools. Rising birth rates in the school district will add more elementary students, too. If we do nothing, kindergarten and other elementary class sizes will near 40 students per class. At the high school, portable buildings with no laboratory capability currently house science classrooms.
At the same time, the State Board of Education is increasing laboratory science credits required for students to earn a high school diploma. In these digital, high tech times, our technology classrooms have reached their maximum electrical and network capacity. Our popular vocational classes suffer from limited space and obsolete equipment.
The bond proposal includes renovating Sequim High to add the science classes and technology capacity our students, college or career bound, need to succeed here or anywhere else in the world.
The proposal also includes a new elementary school, replacing Haller, and added classrooms at Greywolf, so the community’s elementary students will have the adequate classroom space they need.
Students’ and teachers’ accountability standards have never been higher. We rightly expect much from them. In return, each and every student should have the most opportunities for success we as a community can provide, and right now, our buildings can’t do that.
The bond proposal submitted for voter approval will provide the school buildings students need to help them achieve success, and at a great value to the community’s taxpayers. Estimated total tax rates (Bond and Maintenance & Operations combined) for the life of the bond are $3.85 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, a full $1.05 less than what taxpayers in communities with assessed valuations similar to ours are paying.
We urge you to keep all these considerations in mind as you make your voting decision April 22. If you have any questions at all, please call us at 582-3260, or review the bond materials on Sequim School District’s website at www.sequim.k12.wa.us.
Please join us at our public forum, at 7 p.m. April 8 in the Sequim High School library.
Kelly Shea is Superintendent of Sequim Schools.
Brian Lewis is Director of Business Services for the Sequim School District.