Opinion

NSD measure impacts entire community | Editorial

Most people don’t pay attention to February elections. They are not as entertaining as a November general election. There are usually only one or two items on the ballot. A lot of times the ballot just gets lost in the shuffle of day-to-day life. But the future course of the Northshore School District is in the hands of voters on Feb. 11.

Those residents have been good in the past about supporting the district’s needs and in return the district has been good about using tax dollars wisely. This new plan is no exception.

Exponential growth in the north end of Bothell has led to overcrowding in local schools and the need for change. Voters will have to decide if they support a $177.5 million bond measure, mainly to build a new high school, along with an education maintenance and operations levy and a capital technology levy.

The centerpiece is a new 250,000-square-foot high school to be built on the 61-acre property north and west of Fernwood Elementary School. The district purchased the land in 2012 and the new schools would accommodate 1,500-1,600 students. Construction would begin this spring with the school opening in fall of 2017. This year’s fifth-graders would attend freshman year at the new high school.

But approval of the measure would mean changes for the entire district, including students in Kenmore and Woodinville. Some of the money raised, $17 million worth, would pay to finish the Woodinville High School renovation. The rest of the bond money would go toward various maintenance projects around the district, such as replacing old roofs and boilers. That money would directly benefit students in Kenmore.

The district will have to undertake a grade level reconfiguration that would bring the district to a K-5 elementary, 6-8 middle and 9-12 high schools alignment and implement associated boundary adjustments. Those changes can be tough for some families but is a good plan for the future of the district. The move follows many other school districts in the state that have made the change. Northshore and Puyallup are the only remaining large school districts in the state with the current K-6, 7-9 and 10-12 grade level configuration.

But for most voters a yes or no vote comes down to dollars and cents - and not just sense. For taxpayers, the measures would replace the expiring bond and levies. A home valued at $400,000 in 2013 will pay an annual tax rate of $2,116. In 2014, that rate would increase by $20 with an expected home valuation increase of $28,000.

During the course of the new measures, the tax rate would increase an average of $62.20 per year during the four years. That same $400,000 home in 2013 will increase in value to $481,718 in 2018. The tax rate is based on the value of the home. The rate per $1,000 of assessed value will actually decrease from $5.29 in 2013 to $4.95 in 2018. The economics, when taken in context with the overall benefits to the community, just make sense.

But this plan also makes sense from an education standpoint. Everyone knows that smaller class sizes benefit all students’ education.

Educating students is not just an issue for parents. Providing a good basic education for the youth in the community benefits everyone. It leads to less crime, better workers, more entrepreneurs and smarter decisions in the future as a community. Many children in the community have grown up and chosen to stay in Northshore. They know how good the education system is and want the best for their kids.

The Northshore community has shown its support for the school district throughout the years and the district has rewarded the community - not just students and parents. Many residents move to Bothell, Kenmore and Woodinville so their children can attend Northshore schools. That added incentive and competition in the real estate market drives up home values, which benefits every home owner.

And while the sticker shock of a $177.5 million bond measure will deter some voters, the entire plan is a win-win for Northshore.

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