Are you disappointed the Arlington school bond didn’t pass? Are you glad because you just can’t handle another tax? Or did you think schools were supposed to be fully funded because of the McCleary decision?
I’m a mom who homeschools and also has students in the Arlington School District, and I fully supported this bond, and will continue to support the bond when it is introduced again. Here’s why. McCleary is mainly trying to shift basic education costs, especially salaries, away from local districts. It also increased funding for CTE programs and special education. These are good things because it frees up local funds to pay for other projects we need. If we do not pass our local bonds and have to apply for state funds to complete the projects we need, we will begin to depend even more on the state to make facility decisions for our local school districts. We know our kids better than someone in Olympia. Maybe families are upset that Arlington closed Trafton school or spent bus money on something besides buses back in the day. These were things that made many mistrust. Maybe it’s another issue.
The problem is, when we neglect to locally fund our schools to punish past administrators or state government for something, it’s not doing anything to them. What it is doing is preventing our kids from learning in an earthquake-safe and intruder-proof middle school with ample and up-to-date learning spaces. It’s preventing our high schoolers from having enough classroom space for their burgeoning population. It’s preventing our school district from finishing the security measures they already began to put in place with the funds we did give them. It’s preventing the robotics and stagecraft programs at AHS from having their own space to work. It’s preventing Eagle Creek elementary from having a fire sprinkler system. You thought those were supposed to be in all the schools? Well, first we have to pay for them.
And that new elementary school we desperately need, well, we just missed out on $8.9 million in matching funds toward purchasing a site for one. Oh, and the 30-year-old floor coverings you walked on as a student at Kent Prairie or Eagle Creek. Well, your kiddo will be using those, too, for the foreseeable future.
These aren’t things the state is going to magically find money for next year. It’s up to us if we care for the kids who are inevitably going to care for us in our old age. Not everyone can afford private school or has the freedom to homeschool. Our local public schools are the local gateway to our future. We must decide to support them somehow. If we have a problem with the school bond and what it covers or how the funds will be managed, let’s pledge to be involved, to add in accountability, improve communication or to help educate the public. We should be glad to do what it takes to support the people who nurture and support our most-valuable treasures: our children.
Angie Donnelson, Arlington