If you read the materials on the Evergreen School District website or their Facebook page or their mailers you are getting one view. If you have questions or something feels a bit “slimy” where do you look for more information? The supporters want you to make an emotional decision. “It’s for the kids” or “If you vote no you hurt the children”.
Are the facts really the way they present them? Or, is it possible that they have ignored some information or “interpreted it” in a way that meets their needs?
We took a look at the projects they are proposing. We then looked at their long-term growth plan and expectations for the number of students over the next decade.
In this article we’ll highlight the key issues we think they “glossed over” or even “misrepresented”. The full details can be found at: https://swweducation.org?page_id=4461
- There are eleven (11) projects on the list. Of those eight (8) are for replacement campuses. Of those 8, 5 are listed in Poor condition (Sifton; Image; Marrion; Wy’East and the ASC). Three (3) are listed in Fair condition. Eight (8) appear to be eligible for some State funding support.
- There are five (5) campuses (FIR; HEA; SUN; TRA and WAR) that are rated as “POOR” but are NOT on the replacement list. Two of the 5 appear to be eligible for some State money. Why are 5 campuses listed as POOR off the list but 3 listed as FAIR on the list?
- Age ranges of the targeted replacement campuses range from 36 to 59 years. Why the huge variance? Has the district NOT kept up on Maintenance and thus needs to ask the public to foot the bill?
- They want $695mm and then expect to get $95mm from the State plus $12mm in development impact fees over time. That totals $802 million.
- The student population report from Hovee & Co. projects minimal student growth for the next decade and then small growth. The report characterizes Evergreen as a “mature” district – not growing. They ask for a new campus but the numbers don’t support it.
- $72mm of the $695 is for items that should come out of Maintenance & Operations. Indeed, buying musical instruments and furniture by borrowing money for 21 years is fiscally irresponsible. That’s 10.3% of the bond for items that will wear out in a few years. That’s simply wrong.
- The new State School Property Tax is assessed value based. That means that as values increase taxes go up. That MUST be considered in the taxes owed. Clark County increased property taxes another 1%. Vancouver increased car license tab fees $20 plus a new housing assistance tax. Washington State is considering higher taxes. Gov Inslee wants a Capital Gains and Carbon tax. Special district rates are up. So, one must consider all taxes and not just the bond.
- The “survey” they conducted was poorly done and NOT representative of voters. They tried to paint is as such but it’s not statistically valid.
When they talk about new housing construction they imply or state there will be more students but that’s not the case. They use the M&O (Maintenance and Operations) money for personnel costs instead of doing M&O. Indeed 11% or less of the levy goes to M&O. If they used the money for it’s intended uses they wouldn’t be asking for nearly $100 million for purchases that are going to wear out long before the bill is ever paid.
One of the ways school district can deal with the changing needs of facilities is through proper use of Levy funds. Levy’s are called Maintenance & Operations Levy’s but 80-90% (depending on the district) use the money to pay teachers and support personnel. The remaining 10-20% is actually used for M&O and “asset preservation” (a fancy way of saying roof and other structural replacement needs.
Levy funds could be used to take care of aging schools and add cafeteria’s, Gym’s, Libraries or pay for repairs and updates. The fact that school boards in SWW choose to use levy money to pay people instead of maintain facilities is a choice.
In the past 10 years the EGSD has taken in $475,046,265 in Levy money (http://www.k12.wa.us/safs/data/reportformatter.asp) An estimated 15% of that going to M&O = $71,256,939 leaving $403,789,932 that went to salaries and benefits of personnel the State did not pay for.
If the EGSD Board of Directors had used just 1/4 of the non-M&O funds they would have had almost $101 million for school repairs and construction. Since a new primary/middle school campus runs $25-$30 million they could have rebuilt 3-4 school entirely in the last 10 years.
The fact is that the School Board made the decision to spend money on extra people…but ask them for proof that those extra bodies did anything measurable that was positive and see what they say.
Tell the EGSB NO! Tell them to reallocate levy funds to what they are intended for…Maintenance & Operations. If you vote Yes then you are telling them to keep doing the same old things and come back to you again and again for more and more money. What the heck…it’s just money…right?
People can’t afford the bill for this bond; there isn’t justification for a number of the projects and they are wasting money. Vote NO and tell them to propose projects that make sense. The economy is good so they are asking for money while people may have it. People on fixed income are unable to pay. Low income earners are ill equipped to pay the growing taxes. By voting no you tell the School Board and District leadership that they need to sharpen their pencils and ask for what’s needed and not send their fantasy wish list.